Traffic accident a major public health hazard in Ethiopia

By Yonas Abiye | Daily Monitor

Addis Abeba — Traffic accident is becoming a major public health hazard in Ethiopia, research findings indicated.

Addis Continental Institute of Public Health (ACIPH) organized a half day panel in connection with the latest traffic report on the theme ‘The magnitude of Traffic injury and the role of public heath in reducing the consequences’.

Speaking on the occasion, Director of ACIPH, Professor Yimane Birhan, said the road traffic accidents are among the top ten causes of death in Ethiopia as it is the case in other parts of the world.

The Director stressed that prevention measures against such accidents are largely uncoordinated and unplanned. There is a great need for stakeholders to handle the issue in a comprehensive manner so as to take effective action against the problem rather than acting in isolation, he said and went on to add, “the result has been more deaths and enormous economic burdens on nations, especially in developing countries.” “As in other major public health problems such as HIV/AIDS, the efforts of just one sector cannot produce the desired outcome in traffic accident prevention,” the Director said urging concerned governmental and non-governmental agencies on the need to work together.

According to him the question of traffic accident is one of the major public issues that remained largely unaddressed by the public health community in Ethiopia.

He called upon academic institutions and research organizations to do much more to measure the magnitude and impact of the problem on the highways as well as to come up with appropriate and cost affective intervention recommendations.

Commander Akillu seife from the Federal Police, presenting a paper on the occasion, said about 85,842 traffic accidents have been recorded covering the period from 2004-2008. Over 2,800 people died while about 8,696 suffered permanent injuries, he added.

The Commander indicated that the ratio of people dying in traffic accidents in Ethiopia is 80 out of 10,000 cars and compared it with that of Japan where only one individual dies out of 10,000 cars.

According to Commander Aklilu, 85% of the traffic accidents that occurred in the country in the five years reported happened on new asphalt roads. And Addis Ababa, with the highest traffic flow, claims the lion’s share of these accidents.

Some 68 per cent of the accidents occurred in urban areas while rural areas claim about 19 per cent of it.

Behavioral problems by drivers, luck of efficiency, low level of driving experience, lack of awareness about security, lack of technical fitness of vehicles are mentioned as major causes behind the traffic accidents.

Although traffic accidents are becoming one of the major problems faced by nations across the world, studies indicated that the problem is worse particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Accordingly, by 2020 traffic accident is expected to be the third major killer after HIV/AIDs and TB.