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Violence and injuries

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Injuries account for 10% of the world’s deaths, with 5.8 million people dying each year from this cause[1] An increase of 40% in injury-related deaths is expected by 2020 in low-and-middle-income countries. The three leading global causes of death from injury are road traffic accidents (23%), suicide (15%) and homicide (11%)[1]

The African Region has the world's highest rate of violence-related deaths. In 2004, violence accounted for 35% of all injury deaths in Africa, and the death rate of 37:100 000 was considerably higher than the global average of 25:100 000 population. The pattern of violence-related deaths was dominated by homicide, particularly among young males, which accounted for half of all violence-related deaths in the Region, and occurred at nearly three times the global average homicide rate of 9:100 000. Suicide was the second leading cause of violence-related deaths in the Region, with a rate of 13:100 000 population, and deaths directly due to collective violence occurred at a rate of 5.5:100 000 population[2].

Along with the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, the WHO African Region has the highest fatality rate for road traffic accidents, at 32:100 000 population[2]. Almost half the road deaths are among pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists, termed "vulnerable road users". Injuries resulting from other causes (most notably drowning and burns) are responsible for death and disability in several million more. In the African Region, 10% of the population (81.2 million people) has some degree of disability.

Many African countries are taking steps towards reducing the injury burdens. These include adopting and enforcing legislation aimed at reducing drink-driving and speeding, and increasing seat-belt and motorcycle helmet use.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Global Burden of Disease, 2004 update. Geneva World Health Organisation, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Report on Violence and Health in Africa, Brazzaville, World health Organization, 2010