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Impact of Injuries Worldwide

Injury is a growing public health problem worldwide. Every day thousands of people are killed, injured, and disabled due to all kinds of injuries. Those who are killed leaving behind shattered families and communities and many of those who are injured will never return to their normal life because of psychological and physical disabilities. Millions of people each year will spend weeks and may be months in hospitals after being injured and many will never be able to live, work or even play as they used to do.

According to recent estimates, each year over 5 million people around the world die as a result of an injury. 1 As indicated by mortality rates, injuries affect developing more than developed countries. Injury related mortality rates per 100,000 were 118.8 in Africa versus 47.6 in Europe. 1

Injuries affect mainly young people, the economically most productive sector of the population. The magnitude of the problem can be quantified in terms of the number of years lost due to premature death, and the number of years lived with disability. When disability due to injuries is considered, the societal costs and productivity losses due to injury death and disability, combined with the costs of treatment and rehabilitation of the injured are estimated to run into billions of US dollars. 2 Globally, injury currently accounts for 10% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost, and this is expected to increase to 20% by 2020. 3, 4

Road Traffic Injuries (RTI) is one of the major causes of injuries worldwide. More than half of people killed in traffic crashes are young productive adults aged between 15 and 44 years. RTI cost the developing countries more than the total development aid received by these countries. Worldwide, around 1.2 million people are killed in RTI and 50 million are injured each year. Unless there is new commitment to prevention, projections indicate that these figures will increase by about 65% over the next 20 years. 5  

Current efforts to address the injury problem are minimal in comparison to this growing human suffering. Unfortunately, the injury problem attracts less mass media attention than other types of human suffering and carnage.


1-World Health Report, World Health Organization (WHO), 2000.
2-Krug EG et al., eds. World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002.
3-Peden M, McGee K, Sharma G. The injury chart book: a graphical overview of the global burden of injuries. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002.
4-Murray CJL, Lopez AD. Alternative projections of mortality and disability by cause 1990–2020: Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet, 1997, 349:1498–1504.
5-World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, World Health Organization(WHO),2004. worldreport/en/summary_en_rev.pdf)