Progress in preventing violence
21 September 2009 -- Violence kills as many people as tuberculosis and approximately one and a half times as many people as malaria. In this episode, we look at the magnitude of the problem and what some countries are doing to prevent violence.
Transcript of the podcast
Tom Shakespeare: You’re listening to the WHO podcast, and my name is Tom Shakespeare. In this episode we look at how different countries are tackling the issue if violence prevention.
Recently, WHO hosted the 4th Milestones meeting which reviewed progress since the publication in 2002 of the World Report on Violence and Health. Dr Alex Butchart, Coordinator of Violence prevention at WHO explains the magnitude of the problem.
Dr Alex Butchart: Violence in terms of deaths kills as many people as tuberculosis, approximately one and a half times as many people as malaria and just over the number of people killed by road traffic injuries. To put it into numbers, that is 1.6 million people who die violently each year of whom about 800 000 are due to suicide another 500 000 are due to homicide and the remaining proportion due to war.
Tom Shakespeare: The leading epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot from the University College, London who Chaired the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, talked to us about why certain countries experience higher rates of violence than others.
Sir Michael Marmot: The clear evidence is that rates of violence are related to the social and economic arrangements of society. And the reason I say that is because although we know violence occurs everywhere, the rate with which it occurs varies dramatically - it follows inequality and it follows poverty. Poor countries have more violence than rich countries. Within countries it follows the social gradient; the poorer the people are, the poorer the circumstances in which they live, the higher the rate of violence.
Tom Shakespeare: Dr Elizabeth Ward is consultant at the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and she also chairs of the Violence Prevention Alliance Jamaica chapter. She tells us about practical initiatives that are really making a difference in her country.
Dr Elizabeth Ward: Our major focus really is on primary prevention and so we are looking at fostering early childhood interventions, doing home visiting, parenting programmes and also teaching basic life skills. We are also doing a lot of work at the media level, we are looking at things like "voices against violence", doing dance hall interventions. We are focussing on more vulnerable youths, where we are finding that very important that a lot of these males who are involved and hurt and injured in hospital can't read. They say "Doc, I just want to learn how to read". So that one of the interventions that we are supporting is on-line literacy programme, where they learn literacy and numeracy.
Tom Shakespeare: The Honorable Themba Mazuku, is the Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland. Swaziland has been a world leader in taking an evidence-based approach to tackling violence. He explains that one of the main challenges is getting people to talk about it.
Themba Mazuku: Generally people don't inform of the abuse, we are socialized not to do that, so this is why people suffer in silence because their can't tell their story. If they told their story they may find themselves in trouble, deprived of certain things they probably enjoyed before. Sometimes you find that they don't even know that what has been done to them is criminal or that it is abuse. Also they don't even know sometimes where to report. These are some of the things that we are working on to make sure that people understand that if they have got problems to inform people; what abuse is, where to report, what to do etc. That is what we are currently doing as a country.
Tom Shakespeare: If you would like more information about this issue, or would like to read the Report on Violence and Health, please see the links published on the transcript page of this podcast.
That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening. If you have any comments on our podcast or have any suggestions for future health topics drop us a line. Our email address is Podcast@who.int.
For the World Health Organization, this is Tom Shakespeare in Geneva.