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Call to limit preventable early death

Friday September 11th, 2009

By Jane Collingwood
Dangerous driving is one of the main killers of young people worldwide, experts warn today.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) study looked at both global and regional patterns of mortality in individuals between ten and 24 years of age. This group contains 30 per cent of the world's population - 1.8 billion people.

Road traffic accidents, complications during pregnancy and child birth, suicide, violence, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis are the top causes of death, causing 2.6 million deaths per year.

Details are published in the Lancet. Professor George Patton of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues say that 97 per cent of the deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, and most are preventable.

Daisy Mafubelu of the World Health OrganisationDaisy Mafubelu (pictured) of the WHO commented: "It is clear from these findings that considerable investment is needed - not only from the health sector, but also from sectors including education, welfare, transport, and justice - to improve access to information and services, and help young people avoid risky behaviours that can lead to death."

To reduce deaths, the WHO recommends speed management, such as low-speed zones in urban settings, strictly enforcing drink-driving laws, and increased use of seat-belts.

Sexual and reproductive health is also crucial, so the WHO supports sex education, access to condoms, safe abortion, better antenatal and obstetric care, HIV testing and counselling, and universal HIV/Aids care and treatment.

"Violence and suicide can be prevented by ensuring that young people have access to life skills training; promoting positive parental involvement in the lives of young people, reducing the use of alcohol by young people, and reducing their access to lethal means (including firearms, knives, pesticides and sedatives)," they advise.

Patton, G. C. et al. Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data. The Lancet, Vol. 374, September 12, 2009, pp. 881-92.

Tags: A&E | Australia | Child Health | World Health

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