Road traffic in Hyderabad comes under the watchful eyes of World Health Organisation
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Road traffic in Hyderabad will soon come under the watchful eyes ofthe World Health Organisation for the next 10 years. Hyderabad is one of the two citiesin India selected by the WHO to implement its road safety project, which aims at makingthe city and its adjoining areas in Rangareddy district safe for motorists andpedestrians. The world's umbrella health body has zeroed in on Hyderabad as deaths due to roadaccidents figure in the list of top 10 causes of death. The 10-year project will focus ona number of road safety aspects including setting up of high class trauma care centre andproviding specialised training for traffic policemen and the general public. The WHO willdevelop a training package for pre-hospital and trauma care. "The intervention for the first year will be on increasing helmet use, throughstrengthening law enforcement, social marketing, and using advocacy to increase politicaland laypersons awareness of the issue. In the second year data on the problem of drinkdriving will also be collected. A working group is being established, chaired by thesecretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare," according to Dr J Thakur of WHO. Trauma care facilities will be improved in the city through training of casualty staffusing international recognised and accredited training courses. A WHO document on roadsafety in Hyderabad and other parts of the country point out that "a heterogeneoustraffic mix that includes high-speed vehicles sharing the road space with vulnerable roadusers as well as unsafe road infrastructure and vehicles that are in poor condition allcontribute to the high fatality rates". Almost one-third of the road traffic fatalities in the city are among two- and three-wheelers, many of whom incur serious or fatal head injuries. Alcohol appears to beanother major risk factor for road traffic crashes. The road traffic fatality rate is ashigh as 16.8 deaths per 1,00,000 population, and almost half of all deaths on the roadsare among motorcyclists and pedestrians. The WHO wants to identify gaps in current road safety legislation, increase knowledge andskills among the traffic police, health care workers, and general public through trainingprogrammes and advocacy and support the long term enhancement of enforcement operationsusing equipment procured by the project. Besides the WHO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, and the International InjuryResearch Unit at Johns Hopkins University are the international consortium partners, whowill provide technical guidance and funding relating to the behavioural road safety riskfactors and trauma care, while the World Bank and EMBARQ will also be working in thestate on parallel projects relating to road infrastructure assessment and bus rapidtransit systems.