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World report on child injury prevention
  1. L Sminkey
  1. L Sminkey, WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland; sminkeyl{at}

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In less than a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund will release the first ever World report on child injury prevention. It is expected that the report will become a milestone in the child injury prevention field, and will provide an opportunity to focus attention on the issue and generate additional action on the part of governments and their partners. Readers of Injury Prevention are already contributing to the development of the report and can play an important role in its launch and follow-up.

Child injuries are a global public health problem. According to the WHO’s Global Burden of Disease data, around 875 000 children under the age of 18 years died as a result of injury or violence in 2002. Injuries are a leading cause of death for all children after their first birthday. Beyond the fatalities, for every child who dies, there are several thousand children who live on with varying degrees of disability.

For all the main areas of risk, some proven ways of reducing both the likelihood and severity of child injury exist. Although much has been achieved in many high-income countries, the multidisciplinary interventions applied in those settings have not been tested in most low- and middle-income countries. In the latter, there remains a lack of evidence of both the magnitude of the problem and the effectiveness of interventions. The level of awareness, and hence the political will needed to act, is inadequate.

In response, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund are leading the preparation of the World report on child injury prevention. Following the model of the WHO’s previous world reports in the field of injury prevention—the 2004 World report on road traffic injury prevention and the 2002 World report on violence and health—this new report will contain information on what is known about the problem, what the risks are, and what countries can do to address these risks.

As has been achieved previously, it is hoped that the World report on child injury prevention will help to: garner political support, both nationally and internationally, in gatherings such as the UN General Assembly and the World Health Assembly; enhance guidance to countries on the design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions; ultimately secure additional resources to further national efforts to prevent child injuries.

The new report will focus on unintentional injuries, as it is intended to complement the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children released in late 2006. In the report, child injury will be contextualized within a broader area of child survival. The report will include chapters on road traffic injuries, burns, falls, drowning, and poisoning. A set of general recommendations will be included in the final chapter of the report, as well as specific recommendations for each cause of unintentional injury. A summary document for policy makers and a child-friendly version of the report will be prepared to go along with the main document.

A wide variety of institutions and governments are actively assisting with the preparation of the World report on child injury prevention. Hundreds of international experts from health, transport, education, and other sectors from around the globe have been involved in writing the document and, through their participation, in regional consultations. The latter alone involved 99 participants from 49 countries, two-thirds of them low- and middle-income countries, including representatives of 11 WHO collaborating centers and organizations such as the European Child Safety Alliance, the International Society for Burn Injuries, the Injury Prevention Initiative for Africa, the Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa, Safe Kids Worldwide, and The Alliance for Safe Children.

The World report on child injury prevention will be launched in late 2008 at a venue to be determined. From previous experience, national launches of such a world report are an important opportunity to convene the many players involved and provide a platform for in-depth discussions around increasing awareness about the issue and defining or redefining a nation’s response to the problem.

The WHO encourages governments and others focused on child injury prevention to begin planning their national launch for the months that follow the global launch. Events could include: high-level policy discussions bringing together the main sectors of society concerned; development of a new national strategy or plan of action; initiation of a national campaign, particularly one that coincides with the enactment and enforcement of new legislation; and press conferences, radio and television talk shows, and other efforts to attract the media. Groups are encouraged to involve national offices of the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund in planning these activities.

Upon its release, the report and related documents will be available to download in various languages on WHO’s web page. Print copies of the materials will also be made available for ordering by writing to For further information, please visit or contact Ms Kidist Bartolomeos, Technical Officer, WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability at bartolomeos{at}