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WHO Representative: Dr. Sameen Siddiqi

Lebanese European conference on road safety and rights of road traffic victims

30 September 2011, Press Club

Address of Dr. Sameen Siddiqi,
WHO Representative

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!
It gives me great pleasure to participate in the “Lebanese European Road Safety Conference” that is yet another effort to highlight the importance of road safety and rights of road traffic victims. This conference presents an excellent opportunity to raise awareness regarding the prevention of injuries and deaths, especially among the young and the adolescents and raise the level of debate regarding the available options that can limit the burden of road traffic accidents in Lebanon. This meeting has brought together experts and activists from Europe and Lebanon who will exchange expertise towards safer roads.

Let me acknowledge the efforts of the organizers of this event and in particular YASA and the European Federation for Victims of Road Accidents [FEVR] for putting together a balanced programthat covers a wide range of topics related to road traffic injuries and the rights of the victims.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 1.3 million people die each year on the world's roads and between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries. Road traffic injuries remain an important public health problem, particularly for low-income and middle-income countries, and that significantly more action is needed to make the world's roads safer.In many developed and developing countries, more peoplemainly theyouthdie from road traffic accidentsrather than from any other cause.The encouraging aspect of this sad reality is that with appropriate measuressuch events are mostly preventable. Too often it is tempting to take action after the event. What is essential is to identify beforehand the risks, to mitigate them, and thus try to prevent.

This year the United Nations has launched a ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’ with the aim of stabilising and then reducing global road deaths by 2020. Major economies of the G20, leading developing countries and public institutions like the World Health Organization and the World Bank have all endorsed the Decade of Action. Leading road safety experts believe that, with the right action, up to 5 million lives could be saved and 50 million injuries prevented during the Decade of Action. This would represent a reduction of about 50% on the predicted global death toll by 2020.

Ladies and gentleman
Allow me to say a few words regarding the situation of road traffic accidents in Lebanon. Based on conservative estimates there were over 4,500 accidents reported in 2009 with more around 549deaths reported in 2010. Of these over 60% were young people less than 35 years. Many of those accidents are repetitively occurring in areas labeled as black spots. Data from the Emergency Medical Services network disclose even higher numbers.The incidence of accidents is evidently proportional to the traffic volume with higher numbers occurring in certain parts of the country. Undoubtedly, there has been an upsurgein the use of vehicles in Lebanon outweighing the control measures taken.
The reinforcement of traffic control laws with speed limit radars, annual vehicle safety check on registration, and use of seat beltsare some of the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Interior in Lebanon and these are expected to have an impact in improving road safety. The need for evidence based information regarding the outcome of the safety strengthening actionsis urgently needed and cannot be over emphasized.

The Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Interior have road safety high on their agenda. For that, and in line with WHO’s mandate, we have embarked on a multi-sectoral initiative targeting the identification of the major axes of work for road safety in Lebanon. The WHO Country Officeis fielding a mission in November 2011 to reassess the situation and develop with the Lebanese partners a comprehensive road traffic injury prevention program. Recognizing the multi-sectoral nature of the problem we have made an effort to establish a task force from various governmental, non-governmental and academic institutions to help in the development of coordinated strategies that tackle the problem. YASA holds an active role in that task force and has provided appreciated input.  The key words to the success of this initiative are – national commitment, ownership, continuity and sustainability.
We believe that the pillars of a road safety strategy in Lebanon include educational campaigns targeting children and youth that can influence behaviors; alteration in laws and regulations and their effective enforcement to ensure better road construction, safer vehicles, adequate driver licensing procedures and clinical examination of drivers. Equally important are high standards of clinical management of injuries, accreditation of emergency rooms, referral mechanism for trauma, and capacity building of road handling troopers and emergency medical services.

I am confident that this conference will go a long way in increasing awareness, enhancing knowledge and promoting the development of a road injury prevention program in Lebanon. We at the World Health Organization are pleased to be associated with this conference and will be looking forward to the outcome of your valuable discussions. Let me reiterate WHO’s commitment to safer roads and to the safety of road victims in Lebanon.

Thank you

Lebanon , Traffic Safety

Date: 10/4/2011 10:55:30 AM

By: YASA WEB , WHO-OMS- منظمة الصحة العالمية
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patrick akl
nice speech
Date Time: 10/18/2011 7:06 PM
Traffic Safety