UNICEF Iran Representative: early safety training for children best way to reduce high rate of injuries and accidents
Tehran, 12 June 2007 – “Injuries have become the second leading cause of death and disease for children and adults in Iran today – indeed, such cases represent 17.5 per cent of all deaths in the country,” Christian Salazar, the Representative of UNICEF Iran, said at the 16th International Conference on Safe Communities in Tehran today.
“In particular road traffic safety for children and adolescents in Iran is very high on the agenda,” he said, adding that UNICEF Iran would be interested to start joint work on the prevention of childhood injuries with the Iranian authorities.
Statistics show that in 2006 nearly 28,000 people died in traffic accidents in Iran, compared with roughly 17,000 in 2000. In total, 2.5 per cent of all road accidents worldwide take place in Iran, which means that rate of road accidents in Iran is twenty times higher than anywhere else in the world. Some 48 per cent of Iran’s inhabitants are under the age of 15 .
“While good progress in childhood injury prevention seems possible by improving safety in the home, kindergarten and school, effective protection of children from traffic accidents is very difficult,” Mr Salazar said.
The Head of UNICEF Iran said that education and communication activities with the aim of changing the behaviour of male adolescents and young men – the most vulnerable group for traffic injuries – were challenging but successful strategies could include life skills education, peer to peer education and harm reduction strategies.
He emphasized, however, that early prevention was the best cure: “The earlier children learn about safety and train safety behaviour, the better! Therefore, safety has to be introduced into the curriculum of kindergartens, pre-schools and schools.”
The International Conference on Safe Communities is held by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
*Figures from National Injury Survey