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Report says Accidents Kill 2,000 Children Every Day

A new report finds more than 2,000 children die every day as a result of accidental injury and millions of children around the world are permanently disabled in such accidents every year. The report by the World Health Organization and U.N. Children's Fund is the first comprehensive global assessment that looks at child injuries and prescribes measures to prevent them.

Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, Etienne Krug, says every year 830,000 children die from unintentional injuries or accidents.

"It is like wiping out every year the whole population of children in Chicago or a city like Marseilles," said Etienne Krug. "It is a very big public health issue, which unfortunately has been ignored for too long. The main causes of child unintentional injuries are road traffic crashes, drowning, burns, falls and poisoning. It is important to point out that falls do not kill so many children, but it is the biggest cause of disability among all of them."

The report says poor children in developed and developing nations are most at risk of injuries. But, the Executive Editor of the Report, Margie Peden, says more than 95 percent of child injuries occur in the developing world.

"Africa, unfortunately, has the highest rate of all these accidental injuries, unintentional injuries," said Margie Peden. "In particular, road traffic injuries and the children there are usually pedestrians, as well as poisoning. One of the reasons for that is because many people in Africa are still dependent on fossil fuels and on paraffin kerosene for heating and lighting."

The Report finds high-income countries in the Western Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have the best record in reducing child injuries. Authors of the report say at least 1,000 children's lives could be saved every day if proven prevention measures were adopted everywhere.

These measures include laws on child-appropriate seatbelts and helmets, hot tap water temperature regulations, child-resistant tops on medicine bottles and separate traffic lanes for motorcycles or bicycles.

Data in the report show that preventive measures also are cost effective. For example, it shows for every dollar invested in a smoke alarm system, $65 are saved in costs incurred by fire loss and the need to treat burn victims.