WHO hosts historic meeting on child injury prevention
4 April 2005 - The World Health Organization hosted an historic consultation meeting on Child Injury Prevention on the 31 March and 1 April 2005. Staff from four WHO headquarter departments, as well as four regional advisors, and four UNICEF staff, met with 28 other delegates from international and regional child injury prevention organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and donors (see participating organizations).
The goal of the meeting was to develop a draft WHO strategy for global child injury prevention and begin planning a World report on child injury prevention. The following specific topics were discussed during the meeting:
- The current situation of child injury globally
- Potential areas for effort and collaboration
- A WHO strategy for child injury prevention
- The rationale, concepts and process for developing a World report on child injury prevention.
In her opening speech Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director General of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO, said that this was an important meeting and the first of its kind to "bring together, at a global level, agencies with an interest in child injury prevention to discuss what is being done and to consider some positive directions on what might be done in preventing these injuries and deaths". She went on to stress that although the burden of deaths, injuries and disabilities in children around the world was enormous, they are definitely preventable. Much success has been documented in high income countries. The challenge is to adapt these interventions in poor regions and countries in order to reduce the enormous, unequal burden in these areas.
UNICEF was represented by Dr Kayode Oyegbite (Chief, Health and Nutrition Section, UNICEF, New York), Mr Morten Giersing (UNICEF Bangladesh Representative), Dr Cristian Voumard (UNICEF China Representative), and Dr Huan Linnan (UNICEF Regional Advisor for Injury Prevention, Bangkok). In his welcoming address Mr Morten Giersing said that child injury was a central concern to UNICEF because it was part of overall child survival. He added that child injuries and violence was an important theme of the UN Special Session on Children held in May 2002.
In 2001 UNICEF published the Innocenti Report Card which described child deaths by injury in rich nations. The World report on child injury prevention will use this report as one of the building blocks in its development.
Ambassador "Pete" Peterson, the President of The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC), and an attendee at the Child Injury meeting, gave a well attended lunch-time seminar for all WHO staff entitled "Child survival with a twist: Why child injury must be included". During his presentation he made an urgent appeal to all public health specialists to advocate for child injury prevention, saying that without addressing child injuries, the Millenium Development Goal on under 5 mortality will never be reached.
The two-day meeting concluded by agreeing on four major outcomes:
- To develop a WHO strategy for child injury prevention
- To develop a short "white paper" on child injury prevention for policy makers
- To prepare an article on the need to address child injuries for a prestigious medical journal
- To begin preparations for the development of a World report on child injury prevention.
A second meeting of this collaborative effort is planned for the end of 2005.