Dr. Raphael Awuah, African Regional Advisor on Data and Surveillance for Vital Strategies, has called for a paradigm shift in the approach to safety on our roads.
He said it was time to consider road crashes as a public health issue, and addressed as such, to mitigate the devastating effects on our resources.
Referring to the Global Burden of Road Traffic Crashes in lower-middle-income countries for 2019 and 2020, road traffic injuries were the tenth leading cause of deaths following population increases, growth in economies, and infrastructural development without the corresponding resources to address safety on our roads.
Dr. Awuah, who was addressing participants of a day’s workshop, jointly put together by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and Bloomberg Philantopies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) for news editors in the Kumasi area, described road crashes as a neglected epidemic with over 50 million injuries from globally on a daily basis.
He said road crashes were the only preventable cause of death, and fast becoming a burden in the face of mortality, mobility, and financial costs to the state.
Dr. Awuah indicated that the direct and indirect costs of severe injuries from road traffic crashes was GH¢10,320 per injury, and thus affects GH¢33,989 average annual household income in Ghana.
He noted that the years 2013 and 2016 recorded approximately 27 deaths per 100,000 population in Africa.
Dr. Awuah mentioned under-reporting, lack of operational database systems in most African countries, and the adoption of the 30-day fatality definition by most African countries as major challenges.
He expressed concern over the under-reporting of road crash fatalities and injuries in Africa, attributing the situation to insufficient follow-ups of traffic casualties up to 30 days, unreported crashes to the police, as well as the police not attending to reported crashes due to inadequate human resources.
According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates of road crashes are usually four times higher than officially reported road deaths in Africa explaining that in 2016 road crashes recorded was 2,084 while WHO reported 7,018 about 237% increase.
The Vital Strategies Regional Advisor also pointed out that causalities from road traffic crashes constitute majority of cases reported at trauma centres in the country’s hospitals.
Ms. Mavis Obeng Mensch, Communications officer of BIGRS said her outfit (Bloomberg Philanthropies), a US-based philanthropic organization that encompasses all of the charitable giving focusing its resources mainly on the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education, is operating in 30 cities in 15 countries with a $125 million offer under its third phase.
The Ashanti Regional Head of the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Simbiat Wiredu revealed that her outfit recorded 2,380 deaths and 12,898 injuries from 13,244 road crashes as at October 2021.
She reminded drivers of the messages of the “Stay Alive” campaign launched recently and called on them not to do the bidding of the perceived devil during the festivities and at all times.