Violence and Injury Prevention


Violence and Injuries are a major public health problem and cause death and harm to several million people each year. However events which result in injury are not random or unpredictable.

Traffic crashes, falls, burns and acts of violence such as child abuse, youth violence, intimate partner violence, and war and conflict are the main causes of injuries. Violence and injuries place heavy burdens on individuals, their families, their communities and the countries in which they live. However most of these are preventable.

WHO works with partners in the prevention of domestic violence, child abuse and road traffic injuries. It is supporting country-level efforts to develop prevention approaches that focus on addressing roots causes of accidents and injuries. It also encourages the use of reliable data that will help determine priorities for interventions and evaluate the effectiveness of prevention strategies employed.

Road traffic injuries

Although the Region possesses only 2% of the world’s vehicles, it contributes 16% to global road traffic deaths and has the highest road fatality rate of all WHO regions.

Nigeria and South Africa have the highest fatality rates (33.7 and 31.9 deaths per 100 000 population per year, respectively) in the Region.

More than one in four deaths in the Region occurs on Nigeria’s roads. Nigeria and six other countries (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania), account for 64% of all road deaths in the Region. These seven countries must reduce their road deaths
considerably if the Region is to achieve a significant reduction in deaths.

Vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and people riding motorized two- and threewheelers – constitute more than half (52%) of road users killed on the Region’s roads.

More than one third of people killed were pedestrians (37%). However, there are significant variations across countries. For instance, in Liberia and Mozambique being a pedestrian is particularly dangerous. In Mozambique, 55.5% of those killed on the road were pedestrians and in Liberia, 66.3% of road deaths were on foot. However, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5% of those killed were pedestrians.

Most countries in the Region still lack policies for protecting vulnerable road users and have not yet enacted comprehensive laws concerning the major risk factors: speed control, driving under the influence of alcohol, helmet and seat-belt use, and use of child restraints.

When laws are in place, poor enforcement renders them ineffective. Finally, post-crash care is inadequate or lacking in many countries. While statistics clearly point to a high economic cost to the respective countries, only nine countries have calculated an estimate of the cost in terms of their gross domestic product. This ranged from 1% in six of the countries, to 9% in Angola.

Road safety management must encompass the following enforced laws to reduce road traffic injury risks: speed limits; prevention of driving under the influence of alcohol; wearing of motorcycle helmets and seatbelts; use of child restraints; and prohibition of mobile phone use while driving.

Roads should be designed to ensure the safety of their users, and be subjected to safety audits performed by an independent agency. Lastly, efficient surveillance and post-crash care must be available, including communication (emergency numbers), and transportation to health facilities with trauma services.