World Health Day is celebrated annually on the 7th of April. The theme for World Health Day 2004 is Road Safety. On this day in the Americas and around the globe, hundreds of organizations will host events to help raise awareness about road traffic injuries, their grave consequences and enormous costs to society.NEW: Declaration for World Health 2004 on Road Safety
Globally, economic costs of road traffic injuries are estimated at US $518 billion per year. In developing countries, the costs are estimated to be US$100 billion, twice the annual amount of development aid to developing countries Studies suggest that in 2002, some 50% of road traffic fatalities worldwide involved young adults aged 15-44 years, many of whom were primary breadwinners for their families.
According to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) health statistics for the Americas for 2002, a total of 128,908 persons were killed in or died as result of road and traffic crashes in the Western Hemisphere in that year. Of those, more than 76 percent - 98,213 - died on the roads of the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. These are the nations with the largest populations in the Western Hemisphere.
Yet the knowledge currently exists to take action on a number of fronts to prevent these needless deaths and disabilities, and the immense loss and suffering they cause. Many programs and policies exist to prevent road traffic crashes. They include strategies to address rates of speed and alcohol consumption; promotion of helmets and seat belts and other restraints; and greater visibility of people walking and cycling. A concerted effort on the part of governments and their partners to improve road safety can make a world of difference.
A global initiative dedicated to Road Safety will be launched on World Health Day, April 7, 2004. The initiative will include a global report, conferences and discussions in the United Nations General Assembly, and other high profile advocacy events.