Saturday, July 9, 2011

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 of the World Health Organisation for the next 10 years. Hyderabad is one of the two cities in India selected by the WHO to implement its road safety project, which aims at making the city and its adjoining areas in Rangareddy district safe for motorists and pedestrians.
The world's umbrella health body has zeroed in on Hyderabad as deaths due to road accidents figure in the list of top 10 causes of death. The 10-year project will focus on a number of road safety aspects including setting up of high class trauma care centre and providing specialised training for traffic policemen and the general public. The WHO will develop a training package for pre-hospital and trauma care.
"The intervention for the first year will be on increasing helmet use, through strengthening law enforcement, social marketing, and using advocacy to increase political and laypersons awareness of the issue. In the second year data on the problem of drink driving will also be collected. A working group is being established, chaired by the secretary, 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 staff using international recognised and accredited training courses. A WHO document on road safety in Hyderabad and other parts of the country point out that "a heterogeneous traffic mix that includes high-speed vehicles sharing the road space with vulnerable road users as well as unsafe road infrastructure and vehicles that are in poor condition all contribute 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 be another major risk factor for road traffic crashes. The road traffic fatality rate is as high as 16.8 deaths per 1,00,000 population, and almost half of all deaths on the roads are among motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The WHO wants to identify gaps in current road safety legislation, increase knowledge and skills among the traffic police, health care workers, and general public through training programmes and advocacy and support the long term enhancement of enforcement operations using equipment procured by the project.
Besides the WHO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, and the International Injury Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University are the international consortium partners, who will provide technical guidance and funding relating to the behavioural road safety risk factors and trauma care, while the World Bank and EMBARQ will also be working in the state on parallel projects relating to road infrastructure assessment and bus rapid transit systems.

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