Road Accidents, Others Are Leading Causes of Death in Young People

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The first study of global patterns of death among aged 10-24 years of age has found that road traffic accidents, complication during pregnancy and childbirth, suicide, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) are the major causes of death among young people.

Most causes of death of young people are preventable and treatable. The study, which was supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and published in The Lancet Medical Journal, revealed that 2.6 million young people are dying each year, with 97% of these deaths taking place in low - and middle income countries, a press release from the WHO country office made available to the Health Matters stated.

According to the release, there are more young people in the world today than ever before with 1.8 billion, accounting for 30% of the world's population. Until now, there has been very little information available on the causes of death among young people globally and by region.

The release further states that this study "is intended to inform the development of policies and programs to ensure that they improve the lives, and prevent the deaths, of young people."

The release quoted Daisy Mafubelu, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health, to have said that, "young people are transitioning from childhood to adulthood at the threshold of becoming productive members of society -yet they often fall through the crack." It is clear from these finding 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 deaths.

WHO also recommend the following intervention to promote safe behaviours, improve health and prevent deaths among young:

"Road traffic accidents can be prevented through speed management (for example, creating low speed zones in urban setting, setting speed limits according to road type); strictly enforcing drink driving laws that limit blood alcohol concentration to 0.05g with lower limits for young or novice drivers, increasing the use of seat belts.

"Sexual and reproductive health can be improved by ensuring that young people receive sexuality education, have access to condom and other contraceptive, safe abortion to the full extent of the law antenetal obstetric care, HIV resting and counselling, and HIV/AIDS care and treatment.

"Violence and suicide can be prevented by ensuring that young people have access to life skill 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 fire arms, knives, pesticides and sedatives.

"The immediate and long time consequences of injuries and violence can be significantly reduced by improving access to effective community care and emergency medical care, and providing treatment and support for young people exposed to child abuse, youth violence and sexual assault." 

Author: Sainey MK Marenah