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AUF INJURY CONTROL POLICY

Situation Update
2000
DEADLY ROAD CARNAGE IS AFRICA'S TOP PRIORITY

In the African Union preventable physical injury accounts for more deaths and loss of productivity (due to disability) than any of the leading infectious diseases. The largest causes of injury in Africa are cars, followed by bullets. Two states alone account for almost 50% of all reported deaths, namely South Africa and Nigeria, at about 9,000 deaths each per year. The estimate total number of fatalities On Impact, for the African Union is slightly over 80,000 deaths per year. The African Union accounts for about 10 per cent of global road deaths per year, and yet only 4 per cent of global vehicles are registered in the African Union. The African Union has the world's highest fatality rates in road "accidents". The constituent states of Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa have the highest road fatality risk levels in the African Union.

The AUF fosters a systematic and continuous process of assessing road needs, determining the scope and requirements for a continental traffic system, evaluating the required financing for extensions and maintenance, and dealing with the relationships that occur among the various authorities concerned with the transportation system.

The AUF will promote legislation for an All-Union Crash Reduction Program. The cost of road accidents to the economy of the African Union is estimated at over US $6 billion per year, and up to 5% of the GDP of some AU states per year. Only a fraction of the estimated cost of crushes need be used for a crush reduction program that would eliminate road accidents altogether.

Minibuses: Common mode of mass transit across the African Union
The AUF will institute an Africa wide basic minimum Safety Standard for Public Transportation in Africa. There needs to be a major effort to standardise road conditions, for the purpose of easing supplier specifications of road construction/maintenance equipment. Legislation must be established that allows for African communities to provide roadside assistance at all times.

The biggest factors in the road accidents include the lack of an adequate system of road signs, the lack of street lighting, and traffic rules that are not appropriate in an African setting. Many of traffic rules are simply adopted with little regard for the complexities of African living. Many road and police authorities spend too much time enforcing inadequate laws, punishing irrelevant infractions, and ignoring major violations that are legislated by authorities (such as allowing: overloading, hotspots on the roads, poor lighting, and bad road surfacing).

Excessive speed, poor vehicle maintenance and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on African roads. There many fatal accidents involving long-distance, inter-city buses, or local buses. Vehicle travel outside major cities at night is dangerous due to the poor road and street light conditions, and the threat of banditry in certain areas is high.

During the rainy season many unpaved roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance. Severe storms and heavy rains cause extensive flooding and critical damage to roads and bridges, making travel and communications difficult in many parts of Africa.
    
In terms of an All-African authority to address injury issues, there is in place the Injury Prevention Initative for Africa [IPIFA] which allows injury scientists from all over Africa to confer. However, it requires more authority and recognition than it already has, as well as more access to infrastructure planners all over Africa. There is also the African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, as well as other all union organizations that need more public support.

The AUF would establish injury as a major priority in coordinating control measures in all African regions. The AUF would secure long-term legislated funding for IPIFA and other forms of specialized organizations with a variety of approaches to injury prevention.
    
The African rates of road depreciation and costs of road maintance need to be studied, and research funded to help put in place a system for the allocation of priorities for continental and local budgets.

OTHER INJURY CONCERNS
Violence, especially weapons-related violence is the second major source of injury in Africa (after poor infrastructure). It is related to conflict and weapons such as guns, land mines, and artillery. Others causes include burns, drowning, falls, knocks (during altercattions and from airborn objects and materials). Plane crashes are common. Burns and falls should be regulated through enforcement of building codes, as well as augmentation of the extende African family. Children (who are the main victims of burns) must not have unsupervised access to highly flammable fuel kitchen facilities. The biggest hazard for burns is in the urban slums (shanty towns, bidonvilles).

Drowning in Africa is most definately out of control. The figures are staggering. Most drownings occur because of the overloading of boats. The other major contributor to drownings is unattended children who swim in the thousands of reservoirs, pools, rivers, in sparsely populated areas. Everyday Africans fetch water, or take animals to water, or are around water as part of their daily chores. There needs to be a systematic way to secure lives. By distributing life jackets, ensuring that there are adequate signs in hazards areas, and employing people to look after water safety standards on water transport vehicles.

Victims of gun violence are most commonly found in war-zones, in regions of high political instability, and in settings where authorities have a cavalier attitude towards taking lives. In the final analysis, political order is the most important solution. Other ways to stem the growth of gun-related injury, is to institute measures such as first aid training, proper medical facilities where victims of violence can be taken to receive treatment in the first hour (the golden hour) after the injury, which is critical to improve the rate of recovery from bullet wounds.     
    
In 1997 South Africa banned the use and production of all antipersonnel landmines. Up until that time, nearly all of the land mines in Africa were produced in South Africa. South Africa also disposed of its entire stock of 160,000 landmines in February 1997.

Link:
African Road Safety Review
Canadian Network for International Surgery


    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

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