WHO's Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention releases 2003 annual report
The past year has again been a vigorous and productive one for WHO’s Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention (VIP) and for the field of injury prevention in general.
The World report on violence and health was well received in a large number of countries around the world and was remarkably successful in raising awareness about the importance of violence prevention and the role the public health sector can play. The World Health Assembly Resolution EB111.R7 urged Member States to appoint focal points for violence prevention in Ministries of Health and prepare national reports on violence prevention. There was strong support from a range of organizations, including the African Union, the Commission on Human Rights, International Physicians against Nuclear War, Médecins sans Frontières and the World Medical Association. The British Medical Association chose the report for its Highly Commended Public Health Award of 2003. At the time of going to press, more than 40 countries have organized national policy discussions of the report, many of which have resulted in follow-up activities, such as national reports, plans of action and the creation of new networks for collaboration and information exchange.
In 2003, WHO’s Director-General announced that World Health Day 2004 – on 7 April – would be dedicated to road safety. This will be a unique opportunity to draw attention to what is rapidly becoming a major yet preventable public health disaster in many countries.
By the end of 2003, preparations for an unprecedented number of events are well under way. The global event in Paris on 7 April 2004, the highlight of which will be the launch of the WHO/World Bank World report on road traffic injury prevention, will be followed by “milestone” discussions in the General Assembly on 14 April, the World Health Assembly in May, and the 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in June – as well as a large number of other activities around the world.
Many challenges remain. One of them is the lack of a sufficient number of experts in injury prevention in low-income and middle-income countries, given the scale of the problem. With the assistance of experts from South and North, VIP has engaged in an ambitious project – TEACH-VIP – to teach injury and violence prevention in schools of public health. The draft curriculum was developed in 2003 and will be pilot-tested in seven countries during 2004. A country capacity survey is being conducted to establish a baseline that will enable the progress made in building capacity during the coming decade to be evaluated.
New initiatives have also been launched to help countries develop policies on injury and violence prevention and to strengthen services for victims and survivors of injuries. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources, it has not been possible yet to begin addressing some of the other major causes of injuries and disability – such as burns, drowning and falls.
Partnerships continue to be a prerequisite for implementing our activities. This year, we laid the ground for a new alliance of agencies that will work on implementing the recommendations of the World report on violence and health. In road safety, representatives from more than 20 leading institutions in the field have contributed to developing a broad strategy for World Health Day and the campaign to follow. During 2003, centres of excellence in Bangalore (India), Khon Kaen (Thailand) and London (United Kingdom) were designated as WHO Collaborating Centres on Injury Prevention and Control.
Injuries and violence remain major public health problems. What is changing, though, is the increasing recognition that public health can make important contributions to addressing their causes and consequences.
I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to all staff in VIP for their tireless efforts and countless extra hours to make the Department the dynamic and productive one that it is. On behalf of the Department, I also want to thank all our partners – governments, nongovernmental organizations, experts and donors – without whom our achievements would not have been possible.
I am pleased to share with you this second annual report of VIP.
Dr Etienne Krug
WHO Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention