Accidental injuries represent the number one cause of death among children up to the age of 14 years, in the Unites Arab Emirates, according to a study carried out by Dr. Michal Grivna, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, of the University of the UAE, with the support of Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust -as part of their Safe Kids Middle East program-.
The findings of the study entitled “Epidemiology and Prevention of Child Injuries in the United Arab Emirates” were discussed during a policy session for injuries among children at the Arab Children Health Congress held in Dubai from the 23rd till the 25th of March 2010
Dr. Grivna provided further insight on the types of injuries;
• with traffic accidents representing 63% of mortality cases
• Drowning and falls at 10% each
• Surveys among local population showed that over 90% had never used car seats before and that the majority of children were not restrained whether seated in front or at the rear of the car.
“There are also environmental risk factors that need to be addressed such as ensuring appropriate traffic and urban planning around schools and safe drop off and pick up sites for children. We have found for example there are few school warning signs, speed signs, bumps or radars to slow down traffic and that in about 80% of cases children are dropped off into the main road or opposite of the road instead of directly into the sidewalk”, added Dr. Grivna.
The report calls for the introduction and enforcement of child safety restraints, effective traffic calming measures in and around schools to ensure that speed is low enough and safe energy free drop off and pick up points as well as the dispersion of schools in quiet residential areas away from high speed roads.
“Creating child friendly environments through innovative integrated legislation, enforcement combined with training and education, has the potential to eliminate most injury deaths in traffic as well as at home”.
Participating in a separate policy roundtable session, Mr. Johannes Pattermann, Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust Middle East shared best practice and lessons learned of the Safe Kids Worldwide and Safe Kids Middle East initiatives which focus on preventing unintentional childhood injury.
“Over the past 5 years, we have been working with various partners such as the Dubai Road and Transport Authority and Dubai Healthcare Authority on educational safety programs for children and families within schools and hospitals such as the Safe Kids Booklet, the Safety School Bus and the Baby Memories Program.
We strongly believe that a comprehensive approach that is built on a relevant policy and legislative framework, building capacity and creating awareness and education on safety makes a difference in terms of reducing child injuries and fatalities”, stated Mr. Patterman.
Several representatives from government authorities, international organizations such as UNICEF, WHO and the Arab League as well as academics and young people attended the policy roundtable. Key policy recommendations included strengthening and combining efforts in the areas of surveillance and research, building capacity in these areas, developing a regional strategy on child injury prevention, identifying clear indicators and targets as well as creating a culture of safety through awareness and education campaigns towards families and children.
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