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Global news highlights
  1. Barry Pless
  1. Correspondence to Barry Pless, 434 Lansdowne, Westmount H3Y2V2, Canada; barry.pless{at}

Statistics from

From Japan: the earthquake and tsunami

This is being written 2 weeks after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that has taken over 10 000 lives. Our hearts go out to our Japanese colleagues, their families and countrymen. This is only the latest of the many ‘natural disasters’ that have occurred since Injury Prevention was first published. None were preventable, but all prompt us to ask if there were measures that could have been taken to reduce the horrendous consequences. If so, these are lessons to be learnt, especially with respect to nuclear power plant safety. It now appears there may have been violations of safety regulations including, perhaps, construction specifications for buildings in earthquake areas. The placement of the backup generators has also been questioned. In support of possible violations, a neighbouring nuclear power plant (Onagawa) was nearer the epicentre and received the same magnitude of tsunami yet it is under control. Nevertheless, it is important to underscore that it appears the area withstood the earthquake well; it was the tsunami that was responsible for most of the damage. As of 29 March, there were 11 063 confirmed deaths and 17 258 persons missing. Information updated daily is available from the National Police Agency.

From Japan: road traffic injuries

According to the National Police Agency, 4863 people died of road traffic injuries in 2010. This represents a continuous declining trend for the 10th straight year since 2000 when 9066 died. Whereas fatal crashes continued to decline from 8024 in 2000 to 4378, fatal crashes involving drink-driving showed steeper continuous decline from 1276 (16% of the total fatal crashes) to 287 (7%) in 2010. Non-fatal road traffic injuries have also continued to decline since 2004: from 1 183 120 to 896 208 in 2010. But the contrast in numbers with the earthquake is telling.

From Nigeria: national action plan to combat traffic injuries

The Nigerian federal government has been urged to come up with a national action plan on the prevention of road traffic accidents using a public–private partnership arrangement. The call was made by the Risk and Accident Prevention Society of Nigeria, an independent safety organisation. The statement said the national action plan should be charged with responding to this ‘major public health concern as an important component to prevent road traffic accidents in Nigeria’.

From Canada: funding for sports injury prevention

Although the federal government has announced funding for sports injury prevention, it was an opposition party (the NDP) that appears to have initiated the process prompted by a study on concussions in junior hockey. New evidence suggests that the consequences may be more serious and more enduring than was previously assumed. Part of the problem is uncertainty about how to manage concussions. One advocate notes, “The real risk is a repetitive head injury, because it can lead to learning and behavioural problems…” Crosby (a star player) had two concussions in a short period of time around January and he is still unable to play. Canada currently ranks 27th out of 29 countries in the OECD when it comes to preventable childhood injuries and death. The federal government is spending $500 million over the next 2 years, with the goal of moving up to 22nd on the list. As well, a national injury prevention strategy—in which helmets will play a big part—is said to be in the works.

From the USA: international faculty

The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at Nationwide Children's Hospital has invited three international scientists to become international affiliate faculty. The Center director, Gary Smith, stated, “International cooperation in injury research and prevention is integral to our goal of globally reducing injury-related paediatric death and disability.” The first three such appointees are from China. “CIRP is very excited to welcome these three outstanding international scientists”, said Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD, director for International Programs of CIRP. “We look forward to enhancing global scientific exchange and working to decrease the burden of injury worldwide.”

From Europe: JAMIE—a multi-country European injury surveillance collaboration

The Joint Action on Injury Monitoring in Europe (JAMIE) is intended to create a common hospital-based injury data collection system (IDB) in all EU member states by 2015. It would then become an integrated part of an existing exchange of Community Statistics on Public Health. The project currently involves governmental authorities in 22 EU countries and is co-funded by the European Commission. EuroSafe and a consortium of four centres of excellence have taken the lead to define quality criteria for national data collection efforts (eg, representativeness and comparability), increase the number of countries involved, achieve full operation in at least 26 countries by mid-2014, and have 22 countries reporting in a sustainable manner, using full IDB coding of external causes in at least one reference hospital by 2015. w.rogmans{at} or rupert.kisser{at}

From the Philippines: PedFACTS in the UAE

Mafraq Hospital's Paediatrics Department now offers a training course on Paediatric First Aid for Caregivers and Teachers. The goal is to certify up to 150 parents, nannies, housekeepers, and teachers across the UAE in life-saving techniques. The Ministry of Health of UAE states that the majority of the intended recipients of PedFACTS lack the training needed in emergency situations. Complications from burn related injuries are a leading cause of injury in children aged 1–4 years in this region.

Comment from Rafael Consunji: This is something I ran across that you all take for granted—training of caregivers (nannies) for child safety. This is a big issue in LMICs with growing middle class populations.

From the USA: extended impact of teen driver crashes

A report on teen driving in the USA shows that the impact of teen driver crashes extends well past the driver. Nearly 30% of fatalities where the driver was a teenager involved people who were not in the teen's car. Teen driver and their passenger deaths account for 24% of all teen deaths—more than cancer, homicide, and suicide. Four key behaviours were found to contribute to these crashes: failure to use seat belts, speeding, alcohol use, and distracted driving. Further information:

From the USA: rear-facing to age 2 recommended

The American Academy of Pediatrics has published a new policy advising parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.

From the USA: CDC WISQARS added cost of injury data

CDC's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) is a leading source of injury statistics in the USA. This interactive, web-based query system provides data on injury deaths, violent deaths, and non-fatal injuries and now includes cost of injury reports. These could include medical (eg, treatment and rehabilitation) costs, work loss (eg, lost wages, benefits, and self-reported household services), and combined (medical plus work loss) costs. Further information:

From the EU: sex discrimination ruling over costs of insurance

If the European Court of Justice decides that quoting different prices for men and women's car insurance amounts to sex discrimination, some women drivers could face 50% rises in the cost of insuring their car in spite of data showing that young male drivers are at much greater risk of crashes.

From Japan: danger on train platforms

During 6 months in Japan, there were 117 major injuries or deaths due to falls from train platforms or being struck by trains. Of these about 60% involved drunkenness. In response, train and subway lines introduced crawl spaces under platforms and panic buttons on platforms to stop trains in an emergency. Nevertheless, they remain far behind in installing the most effective safety measure: barriers with sliding doors that open only when the train is stopped at the platform. As of March 2010, these barriers were present at only 449 stations of the 2800 where they are needed.

From South Korea: the Domino's Pizza issue

In 1973 Domino's guaranteed that if customers failed to receive their pizza within 30 min of placing an order, it would be free. It seemed like a clever marketing strategy until 1992 when a delivery driver in Indiana killed a woman, and another was seriously injured when a driver ran a red light. The courts found that drivers were under pressure and were driving faster and more recklessly. The two lawsuits cost Domino's over US$100 million and the strategy was dropped, but only in the USA. It is still in place in South Korea where a delivery boy was killed after colliding with a taxi while delivering an order, and it is reported that there have been three other deaths in the country in the past year. The Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency stated: “In 2009 alone, 1380 accidents involving bike-riding delivery men took place in South Korea, up from 1192 in 2008 and 990 in 2007.” A number of groups are now pressuring Domino's to abolish the 30-min guarantee.

From Cambodia: concern over crashes

Thirteen Cambodian NGOs issued a statement expressing concern over a rise in deadly traffic accidents, particularly along one major road from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. It is estimated that 33% of crashes were caused by carelessness, 30% by speeding, and 15% by drunken driving. The NGOs suggested preventive steps the government could take, including speed cameras, sobriety checkpoints, a reduction in the shift schedules for lorry drivers, and better monitoring of auto licences. The statement followed an accident that left 19 dead and eight severely injured when a lorry transporting steel collided with a minivan. However in 2010, there were about 700 fewer crash fatalities.

From the USA: public health law network established

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recently established the Public Health Law Network to provide legal technical assistance to those working to improve the public's health. The Network's Eastern Region welcomes questions or requests for assistance regarding legal aspects of injury prevention and control. The Network is a partnership between the University of Maryland School of Law, the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Law and the Public's Health. To reach the Director, K Dachille, call 410-706-5575.

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  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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