Background Despite substantial progress in some countries in traffic injuries prevention enormous gaps remain which the health sector can play a critical role addressing.
Description of the problem Road traffic injuries claim the lives of over 1.2 million people and seriously injure millions more each year. These largely preventable injuries lead causes of death worldwide of people ages 15–29.
Governments play a critical role improving road safety through leading multisectoral responses. However, overcoming the current achievement plateau, with injury numbers rising mainly in low- and middle-income countries, requires the health sector to increase its leadership role. Since 2004, world leaders have passed six resolutions at the UN General Assembly on Improving Road Safety, working to increase the holistic response. Although Ministers of Health last passed a resolution at the World Health Organisation on traffic injuries prevention over ten years ago, the health sector has played a critical role establishing injury data systems and the evidence base for effective interventions. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020 offers an opportunity for countries to work multilaterally to organise around key recommendations for actions to address current gaps. National governments would benefit from having a multisectoral strategy, including a strong health presence, to prevent and respond to traffic injuries.
Results We know what works to prevent traffic-related injuries; now is the time to implement those strategies, worldwide, for example, improving data collection and analysis for decision making; and public education on emergency response. Beyond the technical knowledge, there is also a critical role for health ministries to bring increased visibility to the public health aspects of road safety and to how health can better integrate into the multisectoral response. Countries should capitalise on the SDG targets agreement and convene various sectors–health, transportation, education, justice–to strengthen implementation of contextually-relevant best practices. The health sector can play a leading role in this process, applying its health systems and health promotion expertise.
Conclusions Road traffic injuries exert an enormous toll on national health systems. Strong health sector involvement and leadership can galvanise action on global and national health agendas. The UNGA resolutions, the Decade of Action on Road Safety Plan, and the 2015 Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety can all be leveraged to mobilise accelerated multisectoral approaches to save millions of lives.
- Health Sector
- Road Safety
- Road Traffic Injuries