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Worldwide Injuries and Violence


 International street scene with significant pedestrian and bike trafficInjuries and violence are a major public health issue worldwide and account for nearly 1 out of every 10 deaths every year.

  • Globally, more than nine people die every minute from injuries or violence—that’s 5.8 million people of all ages and economic groups who die each year from both unintentional and violence related injuries!1
  • The three leading causes of injury and violence-related deaths are road traffic incidents (1.3 million), suicides (844,000), and homicides (600,000).2
  • In addition, millions of people seek medical treatment due to injuries and violence.1
  • Violence can result in serious injuries and even death, but may also lead to other significant mental and physical health consequences such as depression and anxiety, pregnancy complications, and even chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.3
  • Violence also erodes the sense of safety and security so essential to the well-being of families and communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) has several global programs and projects underway aimed at preventing injuries and violence and reducing their dire consequences. The following are just three examples that illustrate how the Injury Center is helping people worldwide to reach their full potential.

Global Road Safety

 Children wearing helmets in a community celebration of the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative in VietnamIn addition to deaths, road traffic crashes result in 20–50 million injuries every year—nearly half are among pedestrians or people riding motorcycles or bicycles in countries where motorbikes are a principle mode of transportation. These injuries cost $518 billion annually.4

The Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative in Vietnam is an innovative program that includes helmet distribution, public education, and legislative changes. It has resulted in an increase in helmet use among motorcycle riders from 30 percent to over 90 percent, a 16 percent decrease in road traffic head injuries, and an 18 percent decrease in risk of death.5

Increasing helmet use is a simple, inexpensive, and very cost effective means of preventing serious head injuries on the road.

As part of this public-private partnership, the Injury Center will be evaluating this important program and expanding this initiative to Cambodia, Uganda, and other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Preventing Child Maltreatment

 Child's hand gripping an adult's fingersSocieties worldwide want to ensure that children can grow and thrive in safe, nurturing conditions. To support that goal, the Injury Center is collaborating with national governments and non-governmental organizations to protect the health and safety of young girls, one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

The first global partnership to end sexual violence against girls, "Together for Girls," was launched in September 2009 at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. This partnership brings together international public, private, and non-profit organizations, including four UN agencies. The goal of this partnership is to promote coordinated, effective strategies to prevent sexual violence against girls. Three core activities have been identified to address the systemic and societal foundations of sexual violence:

  • Collect pertinent data through national surveys,
  • Implement the best prevention and protection strategies, and
  • Mobilize an in-depth communications campaign to bring about desired changes in social and behavioral norms.

This initiative builds on a successful partnership in Swaziland in 2007, where CDC, UNICEF, and other partners conducted a national survey estimating the magnitude and health consequences of sexual violence against girls. Survey data provided the foundation for the development of critical strategies to address sexual violence including draft legislation, child-friendly courts, and a national educational campaign aimed at raising awareness about sexual violence and how to prevent it.6

"Injuries and violence are a leading cause of death worldwide. CDC is fully committed to improving global health and safety in order to reduce this public health burden."
-Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director

Building Trauma Response Capacity Worldwide

 Emergency Technician assisting a person on a stretcherWhen a person is seriously injured, trauma care is critical to improving their chances for survival and to averting lifelong disabilities. Most people around the globe have little or no access to trauma care. In the United States, research shows that receiving care at a Level I trauma center can decrease the risk for death among seriously injured patients by 25 percent.7

According to WHO’s "World Health Report," injury will be the third leading cause of death in India by the year 2020. Pre-hospital care and specialized emergency and trauma care services are in the very early stages of development in India and are limited to a handful of medical centers in major metropolitan areas. CDC’s Injury Center and India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Directorate General of Health Services signed a bilateral agreement to collaborate on a number of research and injury prevention projects including:

  • Surveillance and prevention of road traffic injuries, and
  • Trauma system improvement, including enhancement of prehospital care, workforce development, and accreditation for designated trauma centers.

The Injury Center is collaborating with the government of India and other international partners to build trauma response capacity to help reduce the consequences of injuries and their associated disabilities.


  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Injuries and violence: the facts. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2010.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). The global burden of disease: 2004 update. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2008.
  3. Repetti RL, Taylor SE, Seeman TE. Risky families: family social environments and the mental and physical health of offspring. Psychol Bull 2002;128(2):330–66.
  4. World Health Organization (WHO). World report on road traffic injury prevention. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2004.
  5. Passmore JW, Nguyen LH, Nguyen NP, Olive JM. The formulation and implementation of a national helmet law: a case study from Viet Nam. Bull World Health Organ 2010;88(10):783–7.
  6. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Global Health Initiative, sexual violence against minors: scope, consequences, and implications [online] 2009. [cited 2010 Aug 2]. Presentation by Jama Guluaid, Country Representative, UNICEF Swaziland. Available from URL:
  7. MacKenzie EJ, Rivara P, Jurkovich G, et al. A national evaluation of the effect of trauma-center care on mortality. N Engl J Med 2006;354(4):366–78.