How can injuries be prevented?
Q: How can injuries be prevented?
A: Injuries cause 5 million deaths every year. They are also a leading cause of demand for medical care and rehabilitation services. People of all ages are affected, but some groups are more at risk. For example, for people between the ages of 5 and 44 years, six of the ten leading causes of death are injury-related. The burden of injuries also falls disproportionately on the poor - over 90% of injury-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries and even poor people in wealthier countries suffer much higher rates of injury. Poorer people are at higher risk of injury because they often live, work, travel and go to school in unsafe environments. They also benefit less from prevention efforts, and have less access to high-quality treatment and rehabilitation services.
Injuries can be prevented. There is clear, scientific evidence that injury-related deaths can be avoided and the effect of injury mitigated. In high-income countries, injury-related deaths among children under the age of 15 years were reduced by half between 1970 and 1995. This reduction is attributed to a combination of research, development of data collection systems, the introduction of specific prevention measures such as improvements in the local environment, legislation, public education, product safety, and improvements in the level and quality of emergency care.
To prevent so-called "accidental" injuries (known as unintentional injuries) proven and promising measures include the use of motor cycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints; separating pedestrians from vehicles; controls on speeding and on drink driving; use of safer stoves for cooking; child resistant containers for poison; and barriers separating children from hazards such as water.
For violence-related injuries (known as intentional injuries), examples of proven prevention strategies include home visitation by professional nurses and social workers; parent training on child development, non-violent discipline and problem-solving skills; pre-school enrichment programmes to give young children an educational head start; life skills training; reducing alcohol availability through taxation, pricing and the enforcement of liquor licencing laws; restricting access to firearms; and multi-media campaigns to promote non-violent social norms. For all types of injuries measures to improve the efficiency of emergency care will assist in reducing the risk of death, the time for recovery and the level of long-term impairment.