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Possible to reduce accidents by half in a decade, would prevent 1.7 million deaths a yr

By Bharat Dogra 
Accidents are one of the biggest causes of human distress. In any single year, about 3.5 million persons are likely to die because of accidents. However it is the number of injuries and disabilities resulting from all accidents (including road, workplace, domestic and other accidents) which is truly staggering—about 600 million in a year (including about 395 million injuries caused in workplace accidents alone, according to ILO data).
Several serious injuries and disabilities caused by accidents can cause a lot of distress and disruption in the life of victims and their family members. By their very definition accidents are sudden happenings which take victims and those close to them by surprise. Hence shock and trauma associated with accidents can be very high. While much can be done and of course should be done to reduce this distress, the best line of defense is to try to reduce the possibility of accidents as much as possible. By identifying carefully the most common causal factors and making well thought-out efforts to reduce them, working simultaneously on several fronts, it is possible to bring a significant reduction in the number of accidents within a relatively short time. Reducing accidents by half within a decade or so at global level is an achievable target. This would mean preventing 1.7 million deaths in a year and preventing as many as 300 million painful injuries and disabilities in a single year, compared to present levels.
For this we need to simultaneously reduce road and all transport accidents, workplace accidents, accidents in educational institutions, domestic accidents and accidents at all crowded places.
The most important tasks in the world at present are—checking climate change and other serious environmental problems, creating a no-war future and eliminating all weapons of mass destruction to protect the life-nurturing capacity of earth. Although this is the most important global task, there are many difficulties in this. While engaging in this protection with great dedication, side-by-side we need a more soft target which can give us a sense of achievement and teach us how best to achieve international cooperation for common objectives. If we can save 1.7 million human lives and avoid 300 million painful injuries in a year, this would surely give all people involved in such a word-wide campaign a great sense of purpose and a real sense of achievement which they can carry forward further for protecting the basic and essential life-nurturing conditions of our planet.
Hence a worldwide campaign to prevent and reduce accidents as much as possible can be one of the most promising and noble areas for working together at international level. This can be one of the most creative campaigns with possibilities of very useful, innovative and exciting work at the level of families, communities, educational institutions, trade unions, governments as well as non-government organizations.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include "Planet in Peril", "Man over Machine" and "A Day in 2071"



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