The Global Burden of Unintentional Injuries and an Agenda for Progress
According to the World Health Organization, unintentional injuries were responsible for over 3.9 million deaths and over 138 million disability-adjusted life-years in 2004, with over 90% of those occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). This paper utilizes the year 2004 World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease Study estimates to illustrate the global and regional burden of unintentional injuries and injury rates, stratified by cause, region, age, and gender. The worldwide rate of unintentional injuries is 61 per 100,000 population per year. Overall, road traffic injuries make up the largest proportion of unintentional injury deaths (33%). When standardized per 100,000 population, the death rate is nearly double in LMIC versus high-income countries (65 vs. 35 per 100,000), and the rate of disability-adjusted life-years is more than triple in LMIC (2,398 vs. 774 per 100,000). This paper calls for more action around 5 core areas that need research investments and capacity development, particularly in LMIC: 1) improving injury data collection, 2) defining the epidemiology of unintentional injuries, 3) estimating the costs of injuries, 4) understanding public perceptions about injury causation, and 5) engaging with policy makers to improve injury prevention and control.