WORLD HEALTH DAY
APRIL 7, 2004
THEME: ‘ROAD SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT’
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.