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Health policy
Governmental health agencies need to assume leadership in injury prevention
  1. C F Finch,
  2. A Hayen
  1. NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor C Finch
 NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, NSW Injury Risk Management Research centre, University of New South Wales, UNSW Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia; c.finch{at}

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Injury prevention must be recognized as a priority health issue

Although the major burden of injury is borne by the healthcare delivery system, the identification and implementation of solutions is often beyond its direct control. Notwithstanding this, there are clear opportunities for governmental health agencies to assume preventive leadership and to engage other sectors in reducing this public health burden.

Injury has been well recognized by a variety of lead agencies internationally as one of the biggest challenges facing public health today.1,2 The acute care needs and burden on hospital service delivery far exceed that of all infectious diseases combined. No other health condition has such far reaching ramifications for future poor health, the economy, or national healthcare budgets. Despite this, many governmental health agencies do not assume adequate leadership in injury prevention.

Injury prevention is particularly challenging because, although the major burden is borne by governmental health agencies, the identification and implementation of solutions is often beyond their direct control. For example, getting drivers of vehicles to wear properly designed seatbelts to prevent road injury has largely been achieved by the road sector. It is unfortunate that, on the whole, governmental health agencies today have little to say about the impact of the policy decisions of other sectors on injury rates.

This paper highlights how the magnitude of the injury epidemic will escalate unless leadership is adopted by governmental health agencies. Challenges and opportunities for governmental health agency leadership in reducing the magnitude of this burden are presented.


In developed countries, injury is the leading cause of death in people aged <45 years. Accordingly, …

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