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New Zealand's New Plymouth injury Safe (NPiS) has appointed Channa Perry to the role of program manager for New Plymouth's World Health Organization Safe Community Program. Channa brings a wealth of experience in working for a range of primary care and non‐governmental organizations (NGOs) in England, both at a strategic level and in community development and health promotion. She recently completed her MSc in public health, and has previously led the development of the Health of Older People Strategy at Taranaki District Health Board New Plymouth, New Zealand.
A new Cochrane review, Home safety education and provision of safety equipment for injury prevention, has been published (Kendrick D, Coupland C, Mulvaney et al). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, CD005014. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005014.pub2). Eighty studies were included in the review. The authors concluded that home safety education, provided most commonly as one‐to‐one, face‐to‐face education, in a clinical setting or at home, especially with the provision of safety equipment, is effective in increasing a range of safety practices. There is a lack of evidence regarding its impact on child injury rates. There was no consistent evidence that home safety education, with or without the provision of safety equipment, was less effective in those at greater risk of injury (the review can be accessed at http://www.tinyurl.com/yoeurk).
A report from the Unicef Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, Italy, Child poverty in perspective: an overview of child well‐being in rich countries, compared Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) countries using six measures, one of which included safety. The report notes that four countries—Sweden, the UK, The Netherlands and Italy—have reduced the incidence of deaths from accidents and injuries to the remarkably low level of <10 per 100000. Of the other OECD countries, all except two record rates of <20 per 100000. These figures represent rapid and remarkable progress; over the last 30 years, child deaths by injury in OECD countries have fallen by about 50%. Nonetheless, some countries have clearly achieved higher standards of child safety than others, and the differences are significant. If all OECD countries had the same death rate from child injury as Sweden, for example, then approximately 12000 child deaths a year could be prevented. Figure 22 shows deaths from accidents and injuries per 100000 individuals <19 years (average of latest 3 years available; the report can be downloaded from http://www.unicef‐icdc.org/publications/).
Car seat installation clinics are successful in helping parents and care givers properly restrain children in back seats, but more effort is needed to reach underserved communities, according to newly released research by Safe Kids Worldwide. On the basis of data from car seat checkup events conducted in 29 states in February 2005, the US organisation Safe Kids found that parents successfully changed their behavior, and had retained their child passenger safety knowledge 6 weeks after receiving hands‐on instruction. At a second child safety seat checkup, 45% more seats were properly installed by parents than at the first instructional event. The Safe Kids Study also showed that the checkups disproportionately reached highly educated parents, or Caucasian parents as opposed to less educated or ethnically diverse families (the report can be downloaded via http://www.tinyurl.com/2n2gre).
A total of 387 people died on New Zealand roads in 2006, 17 fewer than in 2005 and the lowest yearly road toll since 1960, when there were 374 deaths from road accidents. While Land Transport NZ is encouraged by the record low toll, spokesman Andy Knackstedt says that it is sobering to remember that nearly 4600 deaths and 132000 injuries from crashes have occurred on our roads over the past 10 years. The government has set a target of no more than 300 deaths from road accidents and no more than 4500 hospitalizations per year by 2010. The annual number of deaths from road accidents will need to be brought down by 23% over the next 4 years to reach the target.
A more coherent approach is overdue at a local level to help prevent accidental injuries to children, according to a joint report published in February by England's Audit Commission and Healthcare Commission. According to Better safe than sorry: preventing unintentional injury to children (fig 11),), each year there are approximately two million attendances by children at hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments as a result of accidents. Many of these accidents could have been prevented. The accidents cost the National Health Service approximately £146 ($291.59, €214.86) million per year, and the most recent figures show that accidental injuries kill three children in every 100000 each year—a rate similar to cancer. Although the overall number of deaths has fallen, the report shows that there are persistent and widening differences between socioeconomic groups. Children of parents who have never worked, or who have been unemployed for a long time, are 13 times more likely to die from unintentional injury than children of parents in higher managerial and professional occupations. The report recommends that the Department of Health and other central departments of the government should, together, state more clearly what is required locally to prevent accidents and give more information on what works; councils, primary care trusts and their partners need to know how and where accidents occur by pooling their information; and together, councils, primary care trusts and their partners need to apply evidence of what works, and evaluate the impact at the local level and sustain their actions (the report is available from http://www.tinyurl.com/32dh89).
Saudi Arabia is in the process of drafting a new traffic law system that will replace the old one, the rules and regulations of which have not been changed for the past 35 years. Maj Gen Fahad Al‐Bishr, Director of the Traffic Department in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, told Arab News in February that the new law was in its final stages. The new law will make it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, a crime punishable by a fine. This would make Saudi Arabia the second Gulf Cooperation Council member state to adopt a law on the use of mobile phones while driving. The new law will also make it a punishable offense not to use a seat belt or a child safety seat for infants. The current law only requires drivers to use seat belts. Car owners will be required to perform vehicular inspection annually, rather than every 3 years. Under the current system, vehicle inspections are required when a car owner goes to renew his registration, which is valid for 3 years.
In February, Ghana's parliament passed into law a bill seeking to provide protection for women and children, particularly from domestic violence, and promote human dignity in accordance with internationally accepted norms and practices. Parliamentary committees reported that domestic violence was a real problem, threatening the family unit and having the potential to undermine the entire development process to erode the gains already made by the country.
A new European Union (EU) campaign to introduce self‐extinguishing cigarettes, and help prevent 1000 deaths and €13 ($17.63, £8.83) million of damage caused by smoking‐related fires across Europe every year, was launched at a European Parliament hearing in February. The event was hosted by Arlene McCarthy MEP, Chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and by the EU RIP Alliance. Fire fighters, fire victims and campaigners from across Europe are calling for a European standard to ensure that all cigarettes are produced in a way that ensures that they usually self‐extinguish when not being smoked. RIP stands for “reduced ignition propensity” and is the technology based on a particular design that reduces the cigarette's propensity to burn. The EU RIP Alliance of pressure groups, health organizations and public sector bodies is calling for the European Commission's Committee under the general product safety directive to give a mandate to the European Committee for Standardisation to develop a European standard. Legislation mandating RIP cigarettes are already in force in the state of New York and in Canada. Other US states and Australia are considering similar legislation.
In March, the European consumer voice in standardization (European Association for the Co‐ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation), and the European consumers' organisation, (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs), wrote jointly to the European Commission to express concerns about the risk to children from swallowing small toy magnets. If more than one piece is swallowed, the magnetic pieces can be attracted to each other and cause knotting of the intestines, intestinal perforation or blockage. These may prove fatal. Several accidents have already been reported from around the world, involving children from 12 months to at least 10 years of age. One death has been reported in the US. Thousands of these toys have already been sold, with parents not aware of the danger that the toys can pose to their children. Raising awareness is, therefore, very important. The European Commission has asked the Comité Européen de Normalisation (French: European Committee for Standardization) to assess whether the risk can be addressed by standardization, but the European Association for the Co‐ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation), and Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs are of the opinion that this is a serious and significant issue that needs immediate action by the Commission. The organizations call for a ban on magnets in toys, particularly those that fit into the small parts of a test cylinder of the European toy standard EN 71‐1, regardless of the age of the child at which the toy is aimed.
This year in the annual report of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Injury Center takes an important place among the agency's many successes. Its accomplishments and direction match each of the agency's goals: healthy people in every stage of life, healthy people in healthy places, healthy people in a healthy world and people prepared for emerging health threats. Whether reaching out to communities with assistance and expertise or working with partners over several years to establish an injury prevention coalition, the Injury Center's work crosses boundaries, cultures, and circumstances. The report, available from http://www.cdc.gov/about/stateofcdc/, spotlights injuries as the leading cause of death for the US public between the ages of 4 and 49 years.
Contributors to these News and notes include Richard Hockey, Joseph Colella, Anara Guard and Barry Pless. Michael Hayes has edited the contributions. Items for future issues, including calendar entries, should be sent to Michael Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.