From research to implementation: World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion

Aleksi Tuomola/ Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos (THL)

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe addresses delegates at the Safety 2016 Conference on 18 September 2016.

Injuries and violence are a major public health burden across the globe. In the WHO European Region, they cause 550 000 deaths each year and are the leading cause of death in people aged 5–44 years.

The 12th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (Safety 2016) brought together over 1200 of the world's leading researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and activists to share information and experiences and to discuss solutions. "From research to implementation" was the key theme of the conference, and discussions focused on addressing the gap between knowledge and policy as well as promoting intersectoral preventive action.

The Region includes some of the countries with the world's lowest rates of mortality from violence and injuries, as well as some with the world's highest. There are also great inequalities within countries; mortality rates are several times higher in the most deprived segments of society. As emphasized by the European policy framework Health 2020, injury prevention requires a whole-of-society approach with a commitment to equity throughout the life-course.

Safety 2016 took take place on 18–21 September 2016 in Tampere, Finland. It was hosted by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare and cosponsored by WHO. Ms Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, and Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, opened the conference. In her address, Dr Jakab emphasized that violence and injury prevention must focus on the life-course approach, and that we must act early, act on time and act together.

Safety 2016 highlighted innovative approaches to violence and injury prevention to further strengthen health systems capacity and response. It was preceded by a global meeting of health focal points for violence and injury prevention on 17–18 September 2016, in which nearly 200 participants representing approximately 100 countries – including 38 from the European Region – took part.

Preventing violence and injuries on international agendas

As evidenced in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), world leaders recognize that violence and injuries are urgent priorities for action. A number of SDG targets relate specifically to violence and injuries, including target 3.6 to cut deaths from road traffic accidents by 50% by 2020; target 5.2 to end violence against women and girls; target 11.2 to provide safe and sustainable transport; target 16.1 to significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates; and target 16.2 to end violence against children.

Investing in children: the European child maltreatment prevention action plan 2015–2020 has a target to reduce child maltreatment by 20% by 2020. To help countries achieve this, WHO/Europe disseminated two handbooks at Safety 2016: “Implementing child maltreatment prevention programmes: what the experts say” and “Measuring and monitoring national prevalence of child maltreatment: a practical handbook”.