Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention
Every year, violence leads to approximately 1.6 million deaths. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15-44 years, accounting for 14% of deaths among males and 7% of deaths among females. The death and disability caused by violence make it one of the leading public health issues of our time.
In October 2002, WHO released the World report on violence and health. The report not only focuses on the scale of the problem, but also provides a detailed overview of the causes of violence and the methods for preventing violence and reducing its adverse health and social consequences. In addition to familiar issues of war and conflict, the report examines equally significant, yet frequently overlooked, issues such as youth violence, child abuse, elderly abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and self-inflicted violence or suicidal behaviour.
Following the release of the report, WHO launched the Global Campaign for Violence Prevention. The Campaign objectives are to raise awareness about violence as a major public health problem, and to issue a call for action at all levels of society.
To date, with strong assistance from WHO Regional and Country offices, governments, NGOs and partners in academia, some important progress has been made towards reaching the objectives of the Campaign. The World Health Assembly has endorsed a resolution on implementing the recommendations of the World report on violence and health, and policy documents have been adopted by the African Union, the Commission on Human Rights and the World Medical Association. Over 40 governments have hosted regional or national launches of the World report on violence and health, using these events to introduce the report, bring together different sectors involved in violence prevention, discuss the impact of violence in their country or region, and discuss violence prevention activities at national and community levels. A number of countries have committed themselves to the development of national plans of action for violence prevention, and several have developed national reports on violence and health.
Rarely has a WHO report generated so much action in such a short period of time. This document describes in more detail the follow-up to the release of the World report on violence and health, using the nine recommendations as a reporting framework. I invite you to reflect upon what has been achieved to date and thank all those who contributed to these achievements. I hope that it will serve as inspiration for future efforts to expand and deepen violence prevention efforts worldwide.
Dr LEE Jong-Wook
World Health Organization