UNRSF and PAHO Co-Host #SIDS4 Side Event on Emergency Care Systems for Road Traffic Victims in Small Islands
UN Road Safety Fund and Pan American Health Organization held a side event to discuss road safety challenges in Small Island Developing States. The event highlighted the importance of strengthening emergency care systems to reduce road traffic deaths, especially among young people.
31 May 2024
Group photo speakers at SIDS4 side event

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face a critical road safety challenge, with crashes disproportionately impacting young people. The United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) co-hosted a side event at the 4th International Conference of SIDS to address this issue.

The event, titled "Overcoming Road Safety as the Leading Cause of Youth Mortality: Strengthening Emergency Care Systems," highlighted the significant burden road crashes place on SIDS' health sectors. Medical professionals from Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Jamaica emphasized the financial and human resource strain these crashes cause.

UN Road Safety Fund Head, Nneka Henry pointed out that "over one million road deaths and another 50 million severe road traffic injuries and life-long disabilities places road crashes as major public health concern, especially in SIDS where youth in their most productive years of 5-29 years are most affected." The Caribbean region is not immune to this crisis, with Belize and Jamaica facing particularly high road fatality rates.

Dr. Ricardo Perez Nunez from PAHO stressed that strengthening emergency care systems is crucial. By training healthcare personnel, improving clinical processes, and establishing strong regulations, many lives can be saved.

The panellists acknowledged ongoing efforts to improve road safety, including enforcement, helmet use, and legislation. Dr Nicole Dawkins-Wright from Jamaica highlighted their ministry's collaboration with PAHO and UNRSF to implement WHO tools for strengthening emergency care systems.

Challenges and proposed solutions were also shared by Dr. Jorge Polanco from Belize. He emphasized the need for healthcare services to grow alongside the population to effectively reduce deaths and injuries.

Dr Jose Humphreys of the Red Cross spoke about their commitment to improving road safety. This includes initiatives like first responder training, psychological support for healthcare workers, and advocating for effective interventions and legal frameworks.

The importance of collaboration across sectors was a key takeaway. The UNRSF and PAHO remain committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to address the global challenge of road safety and ensure a safer future for all, especially young people.