Road traffic crashes are a leading cause of deaths and disabilities worldwide and represent a major public health issue at the global level. Each year, over 1.27 million people worldwide die on the world's roads and 20-50 million are injured in road crashes. Globally, poorer population groups bear a disproportionate burden of avoidable morbidity and mortality from road traffic injuries. The distribution of road traffic injuries is generally influenced by socio-economic factors and other social and environmental determinants of health.*

Almost half of those who perish on the world's roads are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists**, and more than 90% are in low- and middle-income countries.

* - Nantulya VM, Reich MR. The neglected epidemic: road traffic injuries in developing countries. BMJ 2002; 324: 1139-41

** - World Health Organization (2009) Global Status Report on Road Safety. Accessed on 14 August 2012, (here).

 

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are now the first cause of morbidity and mortality in most countries. In the recent UN Assembly (2011) dedicated to NCD a Political Declaration urged the necessary inclusion of NCDs on the political agenda of all countries globally. However, injuries were yet to be part of the discussions.

But in this fight to reduce NCDs we cannot forget that injuries accounted for 9% of the world's deaths in 2000 and 12% of the world's burden of disease (http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/other_injury/chartb/en/index.html) and that more than 90% of the world's deaths from injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries, with road traffic injuries being the leading cause of injury-related deaths worldwide.

Ignoring injury prevention as an important strategy for health promotion and public health means omitting a key part of the NCD problem. Particularly if one realizes that many of the injuries and their consequences on health could be avoidable through the application of specific targeted programs and that injuries largely remain an equity and development issue.