Drowning, other accidents kill 800,000 kids a year
Simple things like seat belts, childproof medicine caps and fences around pools could help prevent up to half of the 2,000 accidental deaths of children that happen each day around the world, UN officials said Wednesday.
A child rides motorcycle without a helmet in Hanoi, Vietnam. AP
More than 800,000 children die each year from burns, drowning, car accidents, falls, poisoning and other accidents, with the vast majority of those deaths occurring in developing countries, according to experts and a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Tens of millions more suffer injuries that often leave them disabled for life, said the report which was launched at a meeting of global health experts in Hanoi. The World Report on Child Injury Prevention 2008 does not include injuries caused by domestic violence.
The problem is most acute in Africa and Southeast Asia, but no country is immune, conference participants said, issuing an urgent call for action.
"The price of failure is high," said Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, speaking in a videotape shown at the conference. "On current estimates, unintentional injuries claim the lives of around 830,000 children worldwide every year." The report calls on countries around the world to issue prevention measures such as seatbelt and helmet laws, child-safe medicine bottles, water heater controls and safer designs for nursery furniture and toys. It also recommends various traffic safety improvements and putting fences around pools and ponds to prevent drowning. A child-friendly version with safety tips was issued at the conference and online.
Such steps have been taken in many high-income countries and have reduced child injury deaths by up to 50 percent over the last 30 years, the report says.
Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF's executive director, said unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children between 9 and 18 years old and 95 percent of these injuries occur in developing countries.
"More must be done to prevent such harm to children," she said, also speaking via video.