Changing the face of violence prevention

16 November 2005

Each year, over 1.6 million people worldwide die as a result of violence. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15-44 years, accounting for 14% of deaths among men and 7% of deaths among women worldwide. For every person who dies, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems.

Violence can be prevented. Through the Global Campaign for Violence Prevention, WHO and its many partners are contributing to a new way of thinking about violence prevention. As few as 20 years ago, violence prevention was almost exclusively approached from a criminal justice perspective. Now governments and agencies are increasingly applying science-based public health approaches for the development of violence prevention programmes that focus on addressing the root causes. Highlights of some of these efforts from recent years are captured in the October 2005 report Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention 2005: Changing the face of violence prevention.

Changing the face of violence prevention

The most efficient way to prevent violence is through comprehensive strategies addressing the causes common to its sub-types: youth violence, child abuse, intimate partner violence, abuse of the elderly, sexual violence and suicide. Specialized prevention programmes and victim services for each type should complement these comprehensive strategies.

Global Campaign for Violence Prevention

The World report on violence and health is the first comprehensive review of the problem of violence on a global scale – what it is, whom it affects and what can be done about it. Launched in 2002 and endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2003, the report and its recommendations form the backbone of the WHO Global Campaign for Violence Prevention. The Campaign seeks to:

  • increase awareness about the impact of violence on public health, and the role that public health can play in preventing violence;
  • advocate for the investment of increased financial and human resources in the prevention of violence;
  • strengthen support for country-level violence prevention policy development and programming.