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Finland leads 31 European countries in tackling child injuries with Greece last

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 12 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4008

Re: Finland leads 31 European countries in tackling child injuries with Greece last

The Child Safety Report Cards for 31 European countries provides succinct information about: the magnitude and impact of child injuries; the potential for prevention; and recommendations for successful interventions. Injuries are still a leading public health threat to children in Europe, and injury prevention is a neglected area in relation to the magnitude of the problem (1). Although England is one of the safest of the countries studied, 544 children and adolescents aged 0-19 years died as a result of injury in 2009 (2). Additionally, many more children will have suffered long-term consequences in terms of physical disability and psychological effects.

In relation to England, Kmietowicz mainly highlights individual interventions that are needed. However, more importantly the report card for England calls for greater national government leadership on accident prevention. For example, a national injury prevention strategy with specific targets and timelines is needed. Also, national action is required to improve the data situation. This later point is not a new issue (3-5).

Looking further afield than Europe there is growing evidence of interventions that have been successful and resulted in dramatic reductions in child injury (6-8). However, given the current trends, child injuries will be a growing global public health problem particularly in low and middle income countries (3,7).

1) Sethi D, Towner E, Vincenten J, et al. European report on child injury prevention. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2008.
2) European Child Safety Alliance. Child Safety Report Card 2012 ENGLAND
3) British Medical Association. Injury Prevention London: BMA; 2001.
4) NICE. Strategies to prevent unintentional injuries among children and young people aged under 15. NICE public health guidance 29. London: NICE; 2010.
5) Watson M, White J. Accident prevention activities: A national survey of health authorities. Health Education Journal. 2001;60(3):275-83.
6) Hemenway D, While We Were Sleeping. Success Stories in Injury and Violence, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
7) Peden M, Oyegbite K, Ozanne-Smith J, et al. World report on child injury prevention. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2008.
8) World Health Organisation. Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly. Resolution WHA64.27. Geneva: WHO, 2011

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 June 2012
Michael C Watson
Associate Professor in Public Health
University of Nottingham
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, D86, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham. NG7 2HA