Government resources urgently needed to reduce childhood injury, say experts

Jun 20, 2008

[B]Editorial: Preventing injury in childhood[/B]
Childhood injury surveillance in the UK is under-resourced and lags behind other European countries, say experts in this week's BMJ, ahead of UK Child Safety Week on 23 June.

Most injury is avoidable and preventable, write Graham Kirkwood and Allyson Pollock from the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, but because the UK does not have a comprehensive childhood injury surveillance system, the causes, risks factors, and consequences of childhood injury are unknown. This has made it difficult to implement evidence based injury prevention strategies, they argue.

In the UK, unintentional injury is a leading cause of death and injury and the most common cause of hospital admission in children and accounts for two million accident and emergency department visits each year at a cost of £146 million to the NHS. And it is children from the poorest families who suffer the most—death rates from unintentional injury are three times higher in children from the poorest families.

The Audit Commission, Healthcare Commission and the European Child Safety Alliance have all voiced their concerns over the fragmented nature of UK injury policy and the lack of monitoring and surveillance systems.

The authors point out that part of the problem is that responsibility for children is shared across many sectors and agencies—including Local Education Authorities, the NHS, and the Health and Safety Executive—with no one integrated injury surveillance system.

But according to the authors, the key issue is the lack of political support for surveillance systems essential for monitoring childhood injury at country level, despite the UK government prioritising the health and well-being of children.

The authors suggest that because many non-fatal unintentional injures in children result from sport, the 2012 London Olympics could act as a catalyst. Not only, as the government hopes, to encourage physical activity and help lower levels of obesity in children in the UK, but also to promote the development of injury surveillance systems and prevention strategies to help children participate in 'safe' sport and reduce inequalities in injury rates across the social classes.

Examples of good practice such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark all have well established area based population injury surveillance systems and the lowest mortality rates from unintentional injury in children in Europe, the highest levels of sport participation, and Sweden has half the obesity levels of the UK.

"If the UK governments are really committed to the health and wellbeing of children and to ameliorating inequalities then much more is needed…[they] must now find the resources to develop population based injury surveillance systems so that the true incidence, causes, risk factors, and long-term sequelae of injuries can be used to inform evidence based intervention", they conclude.

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

Explore further: Allergan to cut 1,500 employees in restructuring (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dog bites in US reaching 'epidemic proportions'

May 15, 2014

Dog bites are reaching "epidemic proportions," a well-known TV dog trainer said Thursday, as video of a cat fearlessly chasing off a dog that bit a small boy in California went viral.

Guidance on preventing unintentional injuries to children

Dec 13, 2010

Researchers from the Peninsula Technology Assessment Group (PenTAG) at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have contributed to new National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on preventing ...

Recommended for you

British Lords hold ten-hour debate on assisted dying

Jul 19, 2014

Members of Britain's unelected House of Lords spent almost ten hours on Friday discussing whether to legalise assisted dying, in an often emotional debate putting the question back on the agenda, if not on the statute books.

AbbVie, Shire agree on $55B combination

Jul 18, 2014

The drugmaker AbbVie has reached a deal worth roughly $55 billion to combine with British counterpart Shire and become the latest U.S. company to seek an overseas haven from tax rates back home.

Safety problems at US germ labs acknowledged

Jul 16, 2014

(AP)—The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Wednesday that systemic safety problems have for years plagued federal public health laboratories that handle dangerous ...

User comments : 0