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Bereavement and the burden of injury
  1. Brian D Johnston
  1. Correspondence to Dr B D Johnston, ipeditor{at}

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By any measure, road traffic crashes extract a huge burden on societies. The World Health Organization has estimated that 1.2 million die and 50 million are injured annually as a result of road traffic crashes. Although harder to quantify,1 it is clear that a disproportionate burden of road traffic injury is borne in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs),2 with dramatic increases paralleling economic development.3 Young people whose lives may have been saved by malaria eradication, TB treatment or HIV prevention campaigns are now dying as pedestrians and vehicle occupants on the roadways of the developing world.

There is a pressing need to quantify the burden of injury, and there is a variety of techniques in development to do so. Burden can be viewed from the individual’s perspective, from that of the family, the community, the health services sector or the economy as a whole. While mortality may be easier to measure, the real burden of injury is only grasped when we try to quantify disability, lost productivity and the costs of treatment to families and societies. …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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