Unintentional injury in childhood is a significant public health problem in the European region. It is a major cause of death, ill health and disability in childhood. The burden of injury falls unequally—there are great variations both between and within countries. Children from the poorest families are often the most vulnerable. However, injuries can be prevented or reduced in severity by a variety of educational, environmental and legislative methods and by combinations of these.
Children are particularly vulnerable to injury because of their physical, psychological and behavioural characteristics. Paediatricians with their knowledge of and insight on child development have an important role to play in the prevention of childhood injuries: in data collection, individual education and counselling and in advocacy and partnership working with other agencies. Paediatricians can be champions for child injury, working at local, regional and national levels and internationally, through European networks.
This presentation examines some of the barriers relating to the future of child injury prevention, including the lack of funding for research and programme activities, the need for good data, a lack of awareness among policy makers about the issue and the need for more capacity development.
There are, however, considerable opportunities. There is a growing evidence base in child injury prevention but established interventions need to be implemented in a more widespread manner. A major stimulus for child injury prevention is the launch of the WHO/UNICEF “First world report on child injury prevention” and its companion European report in December 2008.