The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has released a new report that seeks to help countries in the Caribbean and the Americas strengthen emergency trauma services to prevent road traffic injuries from unnecessarily killing or permanently disabling people.
PAHO said in the report titled ” Strengthening trauma emergency care in the Region of the Americas,” that a well-organised emergency care system has the potential to prevent nearly 50 per cent of deaths in severely injured people and improve treatment outcomes for those who survive.
It said currently, more than 150,000 people in the Americas lose their lives annually on the road and thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries, though many are left with permanent disabilities.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young people between the ages of five and 29. Nearly half of traffic fatalities are among the most vulnerable road users: motorcyclists (23 per cent), pedestrians (22 per cent) and cyclists (three per cent).
“The high number of people who die each year on the road due to causes that could be avoided through policies that promote safe mobility is a cause for concern,” said PAHO Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa.
“But when an accident occurs, health systems must be prepared to provide adequate care in a timely manner to mitigate their effects,” he added.
Providing adequate and timely care is part of PAHO’s Safe Transit System approach, which emphasises shared responsibility among those who design, build, manage, and use roads as well as motor vehicles to prevent deaths and serious injuries.
“Strengthening emergency care is highly effective and does not involve investing a lot of money or putting the health system in debt; simple interventions such as having a single number for emergencies can have a dramatic effect on mortality,” said PAHO’s Regional Advisor on Road Safety and Unintentional Injury Prevention, Ricardo Pérez-Núñez.
“With specifically designated essential emergency functions and personnel, processes in place and minimum resources, it is possible to protect health, avoid serious consequences and save lives,” he added.