Countries making strides to stop interpersonal violence and its effects – UN study

16 July 2007 – A new study by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) showed that worldwide, countries are scaling up efforts to halt interpersonal violence and its health consequences.

Documenting advancements made since 2002, the report – entitled “Third Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention 2007” – spotlights the accomplishments of numerous countries.

According to the study, Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico and the United Kingdom have all published their first-ever national reports on violence and health, while Mozambique has developed systems to record details of violence-related deaths and injuries as well as assess the quality and availability of medical and legal services for sexual violence victims.

“Globally, the greatest challenge to scaling up violence prevention efforts remains a lack of investment in scientific, large-scale outcome evaluation studies, especially from low- and middle-income countries, where both the burden of violence and the cost of failure to invest in effective prevention are highest,” noted Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention. “With those studies in hand, we would be well placed to scale up and globalize prevention.”

The report also illustrated the impact of violence worldwide, noting that in 2002 – the latest year for which global estimates are available – roughly 1.6 million people died as a result of violence, with over 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

The report also observed that physical, sexual and psychological abuse threatens the health and well-being of millions of people globally on a daily basis. For people ages 15 to 44, suicide and homicide are the fifth and sixth leading causes of death, and between three and seven million adolescents and young adults receive hospital treatment yearly for violence-related injuries.

Evidence reflects that a majority of cases of violence-related death and suffering is avoidable through such measures as parent training; home visitation services; reducing alcohol availability and access to firearms; helping high-risk adolescents complete their schooling; and changing cultural norms condoning the use of violence.

At the three-day WHO “Milestones 2007” meeting kicking off tomorrow in Scotland, 200 top global experts will consider the progress made and how to face remaining challenges.

“With an improved understanding about what works to prevent violence in families and communities, the violence prevention field has reached a critical turning point,” said Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “Milestones 2007 is an opportunity to draw lessons from the good work being done in many countries and define ways to scale up implementation in countries around the world.”

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