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Monday, 22 October 2012

Injury report 2012 - Prospecting for Public Health Gold

If information were gold, there is a whole mine out there to prospect through for nuggets called the Internet.  And just like a gold mine, public health surveillance in Canada tends to be filled with buried nuggets – not the ones that are shiny and easily found.   It is even more perturbing when the Public Health Agency of Canada documents, are transplanted and hidden in other locations and not readily available on the PHAC website. 
Today’s goldmine is a 2012 injury report spotlighting road and traffic safety amongst youth and young adults that was just released from PHAC in conjunction with several  groups like SafeKids, Traffic Injury Research Foundation and Transport Canada.

If you go to the PHAC site, you can order the document because it is not available there on-line   PHAC ordering information    or a short summary is available at PHAC posted html summary .  

Thankfully it has been posted in a few other locations traffic injury research foundation, Transportation Research Board; and summaries at Safekids.  
So, can somebody please tell us why PHAC remains cloistered - doing great work in behind the scenes, and yet has this incredible cone of silence when it comes to communicating, and a shyness on promoting its own excellent work?    Leave an comment, anonymous or otherwise. 

Fortunately there are a few effective prospectors out there that track down the nuggets and share the wealth. This one surfaced quietly through a Twitter posting.

While the focus of the injury report is on youth to age 25, the message is clear.  For the most part, we are doing well in reducing injury related health consequences associated with transportation. The graphic shows mortality rates extending back to 1950 and peaking in the 70’s.  Since then, and with the concerted efforts looking at vehicle and road engineering, as well as directed interventions on enforcement and driving behaviours, mortality and hospitalization rates have continued to decline. 

The gains have been less impressive over the last decade, despite the substantive increases in gasoline prices which are often thought to modify vehicle use behaviours. 

One might also be disappointed with the proportion of alcohol related crashes as not having improved over the past decade despite several interventions.  

Whether much stiffer penalties as implemented in several provinces in the last couple of years will again begin to move the curve downwards is yet to be determined.   Quite notable are the differences in alcohol use by type of vehicle. 

Finally is the not too surprising impact of injury from off-road vehicles highlighting the increasing importance of ATVs as a dangerous mode of transportation for youth and supporting the CPS and others call for age limits on ATV use.

For any golddiggers out there, if you come across other nuggets, please drop a line to drphealth@gmail.com.   Share the wealth.  Information is a major driver of change.  Protecting information is merely a way to express power over others and not in keeping with public health principles. 

1 comment:

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