National responses to preventing violence and unintentional injuries: WHO European survey



Nearly 800 000 people in the European Region of WHO are killed annually by injuries, whether these are intentional or unintentional. Preventing and controlling unintentional injuries and violence comprises a priority for public health action requiring strong leadership from the health sector. To understand the extent of the response to date and to identify areas where more action may be needed, a European survey of national responses to the prevention of violence and unintentional injuries has been conducted. The focal persons on violence and unintentional injury prevention appointed by health ministries participated in the survey. Thirty-one of the 42 countries to which it was sent, returned the questionnaires, a response rate of 74%. The survey shows that few countries have developed an adequate structural response or devoted adequate resources to the problem. This especially applies to low- to middle-income countries in the Region, which have the highest burden of injuries. These results demonstrate that more concerted action is needed. This includes the need for advocacy, surveillance, building capacity, developing policy and mobilizing resources. The results form a useful baseline for assessing future activities and identifying country-specific areas that could be targeted for further development.