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Press Releases


APRIL 7, 2004


World Health Day
World Health Day, an annual event of the World Health Organization, which will be held on April 7, 2004 focuses this year on road safety. The theme is ‘ROAD SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT’

The objectives are to:
1. raise awareness about the health impact, social and economic costs of Road Traffic Incidents

2. highlight the particular vulnerabilities of certain groups of road users, and

3. issue a call for action to increase efforts to prevent Road Traffic Incidents

In view of these objectives, the following activities will be undertaken:
¨ Commemoration of the day with a church service on April 4, 2004 at Webster United Church, Half-Way-Tree Road, at 9:45 a.m.
¨ Launching of the National Road Safety Policy on April 7 at a refurbished pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of Mountain View Primary School
¨ Implementation of a pedestrian safety programme

National Road Safety Policy
A National Road Safety Policy is a critical initiative in the general effort to elevate road safety issues to a level of high priority on the national agenda.

The Policy will be the basis on which the vision of a safe traffic environment, in accordance with internationally-accepted standards, is to be transformed into reality. The Policy will also help to guide and co-ordinate the duties of relevant ministries and organizations to efficiently utilize scarce resources and avoid duplication of their functions as they strive to achieve the important objective of safety on our roads.

The Policy will also provide a framework for assessing the effectiveness of programmes that are implemented, for taking any corrective actions and also for facilitating access to funding.

There are two fundamental goals that will be pursued through the use of the National Road Safety Policy.

1. A qualitative goal… to reduce the occurrence and severity of road accidents in an efficient and professional manner.
2. A quantitative goal…to reduce the occurrence of accidents, as well as the rate of mortality and morbidity by at least 25% over the next five years.

The Policy contains a comprehensive mix of approaches, designed to reduce and prevent the occurrence of accidents.

These approaches are organized in five basic categories:
1. Engineering and the Traffic Environment
2. Education and Information
3. Enforcement and Legislation
4. Emergency Response
5. Evaluation and comprehensive actions

This draft Policy was tabled in Parliament as a Green Paper on January 13, 2003 and will shortly be tabled as a White Paper.

Pedestrian Safety Programme
Pedestrian deaths generally account for 30% of all road fatalities. Of this figure, one third represents children up to age 15 years. Some of the reasons for this high mortality rate include:
¨ The lack of green areas and sidewalks in areas where some children live
¨ The high level of motorization
¨ Reckless/dangerous driving and the reduced tendency of the motoring public to show care for the safety of pedestrians in general, and for the safety of children in particular

This is why the focus for World Health Day, leading to May – child Month and June – National Road Safety Month is on promoting pedestrian safety with a special focus on children.

Elements of this programme are as follows:
1. Survey of the condition of crossings island-wide by the National Works Agency
2. Refurbishing of selected pedestrian crossings island-wide, in the vicinity of schools
3. Conduct of a multimedia public education campaign
4. Mobilization of community leaders (MPs, Custodes, Mayors, Principals, PTAs, etc.) to collaborate to undertake activities in support of this programme.
5. Collaborate with potential sponsors including petroleum companies, Jamaica Association of General Insurance Companies (JAGIC), Life Insurance Companies Association (LICA), media houses

A special feature of the multimedia campaign is the introduction of a pedestrian hand signal. This is considered a novel and visible way for pedestrians and drivers to communicate. Pedestrians will be asked to ‘Put their hand up in the air’ to signal to drivers that they wish to cross the road. A line from this jingle and video to promote this initiative says:

‘Put your hand up in the air,
Before you do the walking,
Let your hand do the talking’

Road Traffic Accidents – A Global Picture
The World Health Organization estimates that an average of one million fatalities and more than ten million injuries occur every year as a result of motor vehicle accidents.

¨ Motor vehicle of accidents is the tenth leading cause of death in the world.
¨ Men are three times more likely to die from motor vehicle accidents than women.
¨ The rate of fatal accidents world wide, means that the average victim would have lost 28 potential years of life.
¨ Motor vehicle accidents now cost the global economy in excess of US$500 billion every year.

While the Latin American and Caribbean region represents a small proportion of the World’s Gross National Product and motor vehicles, the region accounts for a very significant proportion of the world’s fatalities. This undesirable achievement is largely due to the lack of adequate investment in road safety.

Road Traffic Accidents – National Situation
In Jamaica, the occurrence and cost of motor vehicle accidents are cause for great concern. It is established that these accidents constitute a major source of preventable mortality. Police accident statistics indicate that the consistently high level of injuries and fatalities are directly attributable to poor judgement on the part of road users.

It is significant that on a scale of ten medical concerns, injuries topped the list demanding heavy expenditure. To use one example, the Kingston Public Hospital estimated that on the basis of cost data derived in 2002, the average cost of treating a motor vehicle accident victim was $12,962.

The cost of injuries exceeded the costs of caring for people with:
¨ Obstetric and Gynaecological concerns,
¨ Cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses
¨ Psychiatric disorders
¨ Diabetes

Although the total number of fatal injuries from motor vehicle accidents has declined over the last decade, provisional data indicates that the number of people attending accident and emergency units at Government hospitals, consequent to motor vehicle accidents, has risen nearly 40%.

In 1999, motor vehicle accidents represented the twelfth leading cause of deaths islandwide. In 2002, 408 people died in motor vehicle accidents, a rate of 15.5/100,000 population. The cost of these motor vehicle accidents for that year was approximately J$518 million. In 2002, there were 12,484 visits to the Accident and Emergency (A & E) Departments at Government Hospitals by clients seeking care due to motor vehicle accidents. The figure was 12,230 for 2003, representing a slight decrease of 2%.

For the period 1991 – 2003, 80.9% of road fatalities were males, while 19.1% were females … a ratio of four to one. For the same period, 95% of the drivers that died as a result of road traffic accidents were males and 5% females. The overwhelming majority of the males were in the productive years. In this regard, the age cohort 20-29 years is the most affected.

Accidents are catastrophic not only at the family or community levels, but also in terms of national productivity and potential.

Dates to note
Sunday, April 4
¨ The church service to commemorate World Health Day will be held at Webster United Church, Half-Way-Tree Road, starting at 9:45 a.m.

Wednesday, April 7:
¨ Launch of the National Road Safety Policy at a refurbished pedestrian crossing in the vicinity of Mountain View Primary School.
¨ Members of Parliament, Parish Councils etc. are planning activities for their communities.

Events leading up to the Day
¨ Crossings will be refurbished island-wide, at selected sites, in the vicinity of schools.
¨ A multimedia public education programme in support of pedestrian safety will be launched.

NOTE: The organization of events for World Health Day has been a multi-agency effort including:
1. Ministry of Transport and Works
2. National Works Agency
3. Ministry of Health
4. Pan American Health Organization
5. Ministry of Education & Culture
6. Ministry of Local Govt. (Social Development Commission)
7. National Road Safety Council
8. Office of the Prime Minister
9. Police Traffic Headquarters

February 14, 2005

World Health Day initiatives were continued as the central focus for Labour Day on May 24, 2004 and for National Road Safety Month in June 2004.

The result of this focus was a 50% decrease in child pedestrian fatalities for 2004 when compared with 2003. This is the first in over a decade that an annual decrease of this magnitude has been seen. The “hand in the air” pedestrian signal has been included in the pedestrian safety programme presented by the Police Traffic Headquarters to schoolchildren.