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Accidents and violence are a major public health problem

Date

15 Dec 2009

Sections

Health & Consumers
Social Europe & Jobs

Accidents and violence are a major public health problem, killing more than a quarter of a

million people in the EU-27 each year and causing around 42 million injuries that need

hospital treatment. Injuries are the fourth most common cause of death, after

cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

Although the magnitude of the injury issue is evident to most governments, half of the EUmember

states still lack adequate injury data to guide their prevention actions.

Amsterdam, 15 December 2009. -Today, EuroSafe has released the latest statistics on injuries

due to accidents and violence in the EU: ‘Injuries in the European Union - Statistics Summary

2005 – 2007’ (1). The report reveals that each year a staggering 7 million people are admitted to

hospitals and 35 million people are treated as hospital outpatients as a result of an accident or

violence related injury.

The 2009-report “Injuries in the EU” presents data collected over the years 2005-2007. It also

highlights injury data related to major risk groups and injury causes as identified in the EUCouncil

recommendation on injury prevention and safety promotion (3): children, adolescents,

senior citizens, pedestrians/ bicyclists, sporting activities, consumer products, interpersonal

violence and self-harm.

More key facts and figures from the report

Fatal injuries

· Every two minutes someone dies of a fatal injury - this adds up to a quarter of a million injury

deaths each year within the EU.

· There is a huge difference in injury fatalities throughout the EU. More than 100,000 lives

could be saved each year if every country in the EU-27 reduced its injury mortality rate to the

same level as in the country that currently has the lowest rate of fatal injuries in the EU.

Non-fatal injuries

· Each year, a massive €15 billion is being spent on hospital and medical costs just treating the

injury casualties admitted to hospital.

· Three quarters of all injuries occur at home or in leisure time.

· As to road traffic and work related injuries, the trend is fortunately levelling off over the past

few years, but for home and leisure injuries the trend is still rising.

In response to the latest data presentation, the EU-Commissioners for Health and for Consumer

Affairs, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou. and Mrs. Meglena Kuneva state that "it is our firm belief that we

can only successfully address the injury issue, if we possess accurate and timely delivered data

on the causes of injuries in Member States. This shall enable us to monitor injury risks in the

Community as well as in individual Member States with a view to allow benchmarking and

comparison between Member States".

Injury data are needed from hospitals

Injury and violence-related data can be obtained from a wide range of sources, such as police

and ambulance reports and national insurance schemes. Unfortunately, these sources of data are

fragmented and often incomplete.

By contrast, hospitals provide unique access to information on injury victims, in particular in

relation to serious injuries that are treated in accident and emergency departments at hospitals.

Therefore, thirteen EU Member States (4) are currently collecting on a routine base injury data in

such accident and emergency settings. Altogether, they are able to report now on around

350.000 cases each year, with details on the place of occurrence (for instance in road traffic, at

work or at home), the circumstances and products involved (for instance, consumer products

such as DYI-tools, vehicles or domestic appliances that may have caused an injury). These data

are being stored and made publicly available through the European Injury Data Base (IDB),

hosted by the directorate general for public health of the European Commission(5). As said, the

2009-report “Injuries in the EU” presents some injury data highlights, related to major risk groups

and injury causes.

EU-wide coverage required

The challenge is now to work towards a full EU-wide coverage of the IDB system. Such a system

should serve the needs of public health workers, consumer safety advocates and health and

safety practitioners as well as policy makers at the national and EU-levels.

“The magnitude of the problem is now better understood", says Rupert Kisser, director of

EuroSafe’s injury data base (IDB) programme, "but only half of the Member States are able to

provide more precise information about circumstances and causes of injuries. Without such

information, governments are in the dark as to prevention measures they need to take and

therefore failing to meet minimum standards as to health and safety of their citizens”.

Therefore EuroSafe pleas for national IDB-systems to become mandatory for all member states.

The EU-wide introduction of injury surveillance systems will empower national authorities and

related safety agencies to really make a difference in preventing the enormous trail of destruction

that injuries leave behind. The EU-Regulation on Community statistics on public health and health

and safety at work (6) provides an opportunity for such a binding system.

For more information, please contact:

Wim Rogmans, general secretary EuroSafe, Amsterdam

Mobile: + 31 655 308 297; E-mail: w.rogmans@eurosafe.eu.com

Rupert Kisser, Director EuroSafe's IDB-Programme, Vienna

Mobile: + 43 664 534 5369; E-mail: rupert.kisser@kfv.at

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