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Road accident injuries killing more young people in low and middle income countries – WHO

Many more young people are being killed from injuries resulting from road accidents – and they are mostly the young in low and middle income countries, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), 2018 Global Status on Road Safety.

According to the study released last week, increase in average speed; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and inadequate post-crash care, are among various factors making traffic injuries the number one killer of persons aged five to 29.

Additionally, the report states that of the total number of road traffic deaths, 90 per cent occur in low and middle income countries.

In Ghana, about 2000 people are killed in road accidents every year.

The report indicates that while no low-income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths, compared to previous data from 2015, 48 middle and high-income countries in Europe, the Americas and Western Pacific, have reported road traffic death declines; largely attributed to improved legislation around speed limits, intoxicated driving and seat-belt safety, among others.

The tried and true method of mitigating the situation via policy changes has worked for richer nations, but poorer countries are not keeping up when it comes to positive changes, it adds.

Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO department that deals with violence and Injury prevention, was cited by the UN News saying: “What’s killing our young children and adults, is road traffic crashes now.”

He argues that it’s important to notice this is a “real issue of inequalities,” citing that only one percent of the vehicles in the world are in poorer countries, and yet 13 percent of all vehicle-related deaths occur there. High-income nations account for 40 percent of the world’s cars, and only seven percent of total traffic fatalities.

The report states that dramatic increases in fatalities for many low- and middle-income countries are in part reflective of their rapid development, associated with, as Dr. Krug explains, “new roads, new cars, new drivers.”

Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, Director-General at the WHO said that “these deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility. This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures,” he was quoted to have said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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