Violence and Injury Prevention

Ministers of Health call for strengthening of emergency trauma care systems

23 May 2007

On 23 May, the 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) - the annual gathering of Ministers of Health - adopted a Resolution on Emergency Trauma Care Systems. This first ever WHA Resolution on this topic, initially proposed by Romania and Thailand, draws the attention of governments to the need to strengthen pre-hospital and emergency trauma care systems (including mass casualty management efforts) and describes a number of steps governments could take. In addition, it invites WHO to scale up its efforts to support countries.

Twenty-seven governments spoke in support of the Resolution thereby underlining the importance of the issue. In their remarks, governments were unanimous in stressing their support of the Resolution. Many countries highlighted the growing burden of injuries and violence and the challenge to develop adequate responses in low-resource settings. "Road traffic crashes have become the second leading cause of death in my country after HIV," stated the delegate from Botswana. "Strengthening our emergency trauma care systems is probably our number one most important challenge in improving health systems," added the delegate from Eritrea. Many countries also highlighted the role of the international community. "WHO can play an important role in compiling and sharing best practices," stressed the delegate from the United States of America, while the delegate from Cameroon noted how useful the WHO guidelines have been to develop a trauma care system in his country. "This issue needs to be put higher on the agenda of development agencies," concluded the delegate from Japan.

Although not legally binding, the Resolution is an important commitment from senior public health and development officials around the world to increase efforts to strengthen trauma care systems.

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