WHO says world must step up violence prevention

Countries around the world need to scale-up domestic violence prevention and make a concerted effort to measure violence-related deaths, injuries and health conditions, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Third Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Report 2007, the agency reviews progress since the 2002 creation of the Global Campaign for Violence Prevention, assessing how far the world has come and where more work is needed.

“Beyond an increased awareness of the burden of violence-related deaths and physical injuries, the last five years have witnessed a major growth in the understanding of how violence contributes to a wide spectrum of non-injury health consequences and health risk behaviours across the entire lifespan,” it says.

Although much remains to be done, the report notes considerable progress. By 2007, three of the six WHO regional committees had adopted violence prevention resolutions, more than 25 countries had developed reports and/or plans of action on violence and health, and more than 100 officially appointed health ministry focal persons were in place to prevent violence, the report finds.

The report offers a five year agenda to follow-up on key recommendations. WHO recommends that countries:

  • Create, implement and monitor national action plans for violence prevention;
  • Enhance capacity for collecting data on violence;
  • Define properties for, and support research on, the causes, consequences, costs and prevention of violence;
  • Promote primary prevention responses;
  • Strengthen responses for victims of violence;
  • Integrate violence prevention into social and educational policies, and thereby promote gender and social equality;
  • Increase collaboration and exchange of information on violence prevention;
  • Promote and monitor adherence to international treaties, laws and other mechanisms to promote human rights; and
  • Seek practical, internationally agreed to responses to the global drug trade and global arms trade.

In 2003, WHO emphasised collaboration among the diverse violence prevention organisations and individuals. In 2004, it promoted the “need for rigorous methodological guidelines in order to better estimate the economic impacts of violence and monitor the cost-effectiveness of prevention strategies.” In 2005, it stressed the need for systematically designed prevention programs. Its 2006 report reinforced that investing in violence prevention can pay sizeable dividends. This year’s report offers lessons learned throughout the process.

Director-General of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan notes, “Visible results for violence prevention builds confidence, and in turn, the political commitment and momentum required to intensify and expand the prevention of violence.”

To view the new report, please visit http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241595476_eng.pdf.

Taken from the Family Violence Prevention Fund Newsletter, Speaking Up, 13 August 2003