Poverty increased risk of injury, violence; almost 90% of injury-related deaths in low & middle-income countries
Road traffic injuries are the second leading cause of death among children aged 5-14 years, according to a new analysis released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Around 96,559 children in the age group lost their lives in 2019 due to road traffic injuries, according to the report, Preventing injuries and violence: An overview.
Road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death among youth aged 15-29 years with 271,990 losing their lives, said the document released November 28, 2022. It was released during the 14th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, held in Adelaide, Australia.
Also read: Road accidents keep rising, more so in low-income countries: WHO
An estimated 4.4 million people globally lost their lives in 2019 owing to injuries from unintentional causes and violence, accounting for eight per cent of all deaths.
Of the 4.4 million injury-related deaths in 2019, unintentional injuries took the lives of 3.16 million people and violence-related injuries killed 1.25 million.
One in three of these deaths happened due to road traffic crashes, one in six from suicide, one in nine from homicide and one in 61 from war and conflict, according to the document.
Three of the top five causes of death, in people aged five-29, are injury related — road traffic injuries, homicide and suicide. While in the age group of 5-14 years, road traffic injuries were the second leading cause of death and drowning the sixth leading cause of death.
Falls accounted for over 684,000 deaths in 2019 and are a growing and under-recognised public health issue, the WHO report stated.
Violence and injuries account for a sizable portion of global disease burden and mortality.
However, they are not evenly distributed across or within countries. Some people are more vulnerable than others, depending on — birth, development, work, life and age.
The risk of injury and the chances of “being a victim or perpetrator of serious physical violence” gets enhanced if one is young. And the risk of fall-related injuries increases with age, the document said.
In terms of gender, twice as many men as women die each year due to injuries and violence.
Globally, about three-quarters of deaths from road traffic injuries, four-fifths from homicide and nearly two-thirds of deaths from war (direct deaths from conflicts and executions) are among men.
In many low-and middle-income countries, however, women and girls are more likely to be burned than men and boys — the main reason being their exposure to unsafe cooking arrangements and energy poverty.
Across all ages, the three leading causes of death from injuries for males are road traffic injuries, suicide and homicide, while for females, they are road traffic injuries, falls and suicides.
Poverty increased the risk of injury and violence, with almost 90 per cent of injury-related deaths occurring in low-and middle-income countries.
Across the world, injury-related death rates are higher in low-income countries than in high income countries.
And even within countries, people from poorer economic backgrounds have higher rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries than people from wealthier economic backgrounds. This holds true in high-income countries as well.
There has been a significant rise in road traffic injuries in the African region since 2000, with a 75 per cent increase of healthy life-years lost to disability.
India ranked first in the number of road accident deaths in 199 countries. The country accounted for almost 11 per cent of global accident-related deaths, according to Report on Road accidents in India 2019.
The accident-related deaths in India in 2019 was a whopping 151,113.
Preventing injuries and violence will facilitate the achievement of several United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal targets. “Injuries and violence place a massive burden on economies — costing countries billions of dollars each year,” the WHO report said.
The report noted that many effective and low-cost interventions are available. For instance, Spain set the default speed limit for cities at 30 kilometres per hour, improving road safety.
In Bangladesh, teaching school children swimming and rescue skills “returned $3,000 per death averted”. The social benefits of injuries prevented through home modification to prevent falls have been estimated to be at least six times the cost of intervention.
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