Report urges new innovation to address global traffic deaths

by Tim Parsons

Stakeholders and decision makers across health and allied sectors must play a key role in developing and implementing innovative solutions to road traffic injuries and trauma care, especially in developing nations, according to recommendations published in a new report developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The report was issued as part of an international health summit held in Doha, Qatar on December 10.

"Road Injuries and Trauma Care: Innovations for Policy," written by professor of International Health and director of the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU), Adnan Hyder, together with JH-IIRU faculty Prasanthi Puvanachandra and doctoral student Kate Allen, identified the best available evidence, good practices and promising innovations emerging around the world on road traffic injury prevention and trauma care. Developed with a team of global experts, including colleagues from the World Health Organization, The Global Road Safety Partnership, private sector and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the report was released as part of the inaugural World Innovation Summit on Health, 2013 (WISH-2013).

"Road traffic injuries kill more than 1.2 million people worldwide each year and injure an additional 20 to 50 million. They are the 8th leading cause of death globally, and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years," said Hyder. "Our report assesses the current spectrum of available innovations to address road and trauma care, contextualizes the work that needs to be undertaken to move the field forward and synthesizes this knowledge into practical policy recommendations for decision-makers."

Perhaps most importantly, the report takes a global and multi-sectoral perspective, with sensitivity to those regions of the world that face specific social, economic and financial challenges, to examine the current work being done and provoke both discussion and action, especially in those areas requiring immediate attention or urgent retooling of approaches.

"The symposium in Qatar—the first of its kind—stresses the pivotal role innovation plays in addressing challenges," said Professor David Bishai, forum member and senior technical advisor to JH-IIRU."I believe the resulting report represents an important milestone for global health."

The report concludes by setting forth ten recommendations the authors hope will be taken up by decision-makers and serve as a foundation for future work, including urging stakeholders to promote and use evidence-based innovations for and trauma care, and asking global health leaders and UN agencies to ensure road safety and trauma care are included as key concerns for sustainable global health.

The summit, a high-profile initiative aimed at promoting and facilitating innovations in the delivery of healthcare around the globe, was attended by high-level officials, key decision-makers, government officials, academics, researchers and business leaders focused on tackling some of the most pressing global health challenges like road traffic injury and trauma care, as well as mental health, obesity and end-of-life care, among others.

"The cost of dealing with the consequences of these crashes, including , is in the billions of dollars. Moreover, in low- and middle-income countries, the rate of injuries is twice as high as in developed nations. While road safety issues have recently begun garnering more attention, the reality is that road injuries are responsible for more than one third of the world's injury burden. These shocking numbers are unacceptable and represent a call to action for the global community," added Hyder.

More information: "Road Injuries and Trauma Care: Innovations for Policy" is available for download at www.wish-qatar.org/reports/2013-reports.

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