STAKEHOLDERS advocating for a reduction in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) related deaths and conditions have expressed concern over the ever increasing number of deaths from road or traffic accidents over the years.
By Patson Gumbo
Speaking during an Africa Road Safety Commemorations Day workshop that was hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in partnership with Road Safe Zimbabwe, WHO Technical Officer, Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Edmore Munongo said road accident deaths were now comparable to some deadly NCDs such as Tuberculosis (TB), with young people mainly between the ages of 15-29 years being the major victims.
We were trying to compare road deaths with other diseases and with tuberculosis it’s on the same level with road traffic accidents and I am sure you will agree with me that in terms of the attention that tuberculosis and road traffic accidents are getting, they are definitely different given that TB has been getting a lot of attention including coming up with a Global Fund for HIV, TB and malaria but nothing really for road deaths,” said Dr Munongo.
The Road Safety Workshop was running under the theme, Unpacking the Road Safety Global Plan of the 2nd Decade of Action – Ratifying the African Charter brought together different stakeholders in seeking ways to reduces injuries and deaths caused by road carnage with a lot of accidents recorded as we enter the festive period.
“Now we are going towards the festive season, we should be seeing more of the media advertising and reporting on road safety, responsible driving, no drinking and driving and that will actually help us to reduce road accidents.”
Zimbabwe is working on making Zimbabwe roads safer for road users in line with the United Nations SDG targets of reducing road related injuries and deaths by 50% by 2030,
Program Manager Non-Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Ms Venus Mushininga said events that occur on the roads have a big impact on the ministry as it mostly determines the health of people and also affects how funds are used and hence there is need to work towards reduction of road carnage.
“In terms of health, what happens on the roads is one of the major determinants of health in our society, whether we have people who are able to work, who are not disabled, who can get to where they want to go safely is very critical because road networks link the country. It’s a very critical area at how we look at health as a whole. Unsafe roads are a major problem because we have a lot of accidents happening on our highways, we have issues of mortality.
“When we have a lot of road carnage we strain the resources. Let’s say i have a budget for mental health services but there are so many accidents in the area I am, i have to shift my resources because that will be an emergency I am responding to, I have to save a life and also strain on the health workers. We also have to look at the high costs of care rehabilitation of post crush victims,” said Ms Mushininga.
Meanwhile, Road Safe Zimbabwe Director, Sam Nyaude said the crisis of road carnage was a national emergency and deserves undivided attention.
“The Road carnage crisis is not unique only to Zimbabwe, it’s a world crisis that we need to deal with. As we look at Africa, we are the most affected and we have to come together and strategize on how we can implement measures to reduces injuries and deaths by road carnage. The bottom line of what we need to do now is to act,” said Nyaude.