World Health Day 2004

Road Safety PSA with Heather Mills-McCartney
 Heather Mills-McCartney
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7-15 April 2004
Click here for a Calendar of Events

 Dra. Mirta Roses Periago
Message From PAHO Director, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago
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World Health Day is celebrated annually on the 7th of April. The theme for World Health Day 2004 is Road Safety. On this day in the Americas and around the globe, hundreds of organizations will host events to help raise awareness about road traffic injuries, their grave consequences and enormous costs to society.

NEWDeclaration for World Health 2004 on Road Safety

Global Picture
More than 1.2 million people are killed on the road annually. Millions more are injured or disabled. In some low and middle income countries, road crash victims occupy up to 10 percent of hospital beds. Deaths from all types of injuries are projected to rise from 5.1 million in 1990 to 8.4 million in 2020—with road traffic injuries as a major cause for this increase.

Globally, economic costs of road traffic injuries are estimated at US $518 billion per year. In developing countries, the costs are estimated to be US$100 billion, twice the annual amount of development aid to developing countries Studies suggest that in 2002, some 50% of road traffic fatalities worldwide involved young adults aged 15-44 years, many of whom were primary breadwinners for their families.

Objectives of World Health Day 2004:
  • Raise awareness of health impact and social and economic costs of road traffic injuries
  • Stimulate debate on the possibility for road traffic injury prevention
  • Issue a call for action
  • Issue a report on the global road traffic safety problem

The Americas
Nearly 130,000 people die annually on the highways and byways of the Americas. More than 44,500 of them die in the United States, where traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics under 34 years of age.

According to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) health statistics for the Americas for 2002, a total of 128,908 persons were killed in or died as result of road and traffic crashes in the Western Hemisphere in that year. Of those, more than 76 percent - 98,213 - died on the roads of the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. These are the nations with the largest populations in the Western Hemisphere.

Yet the knowledge currently exists to take action on a number of fronts to prevent these needless deaths and disabilities, and the immense loss and suffering they cause. Many programs and policies exist to prevent road traffic crashes. They include strategies to address rates of speed and alcohol consumption; promotion of helmets and seat belts and other restraints; and greater visibility of people walking and cycling. A concerted effort on the part of governments and their partners to improve road safety can make a world of difference.

A global initiative dedicated to Road Safety will be launched on World Health Day, April 7, 2004. The initiative will include a global report, conferences and discussions in the United Nations General Assembly, and other high profile advocacy events.

Launch of Report for the Americas
PAHO has been working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many other groups on World Health Day for the Americas. PAHO's plan is to issue the report on traffic safety in Washington April 7th and to launch a campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from road crashes throughout the Americas.