System to reduce child injuries

Updated: 2012-05-30 07:47

By He Dan (China Daily)

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Drowning, traffic accident top two causes of death, WHO says

The Ministry of Health will speed up the establishment of a nationwide monitoring system for child injuries, said a senior official on Tuesday.

The system will collect and release information including child deaths and disabilities due to traffic accidents, drowning, poisoning or other kinds of injuries, said Yan Jun, a division director of the ministry's disease prevention and control bureau.

System to reduce child injuries

Yan said that the ministry has run a pilot project in 127 hospitals across the country since 2005 that recorded patients' injuries.

The system will also be part of the ministry's measures to protect children from injuries, she added.

Yan made the remarks during a symposium on preventing and controlling injuries, which was held by the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, the United Nations Children's Fund and other governmental departments in Beijing on Tuesday.

Globally, about 875,000 people under the age of 18 die from injuries and some 50 million minors receive medical treatment due to injuries every year, according to statistics from the World Health Organization.

The UNICEF and WHO estimated that in China about 315,000 children under the age of 5 die annually, among which 10 percent die from injuries.

Drowning causes 48 percent of all injury deaths for Chinese children under the age of 14, according to the WHO.

In some parts of China, such as East China's Jiangxi province, drowning caused more than half of all child injury deaths, based on a study conducted by UNICEF.

Five teenage girls drowned on Sunday in Xiaogan, Hubei province, Wuhan Evening News reported.

Shu Changxiang, a 68-year-old farmer in Jidian village, met the five victims and their companion, a boy aged 7, before the drowning on Sunday afternoon.

"Be careful and don't play in the water," Shu warned the children without stopping them near the riverbank and went farming nearby. The water she referred to was an artificial river about four meters deep.

Shu told the newspaper she later heard the cry of a boy, who turned out to be the younger brother of the twin sisters in the water.

Shu rushed to the spot and found the boy standing near the river crying and the five girls had disappeared with their clothes laid along the riverside.

Their bodies were found three hours later.

More than 13,000 children lost their lives on the road, figures from the Ministry of Health in 2006 showed, making traffic accidents the second biggest fatal injury for children in China.

Experts believed that, apart from data collection and analysis, more efforts should be given to improve legislation and law enforcement to reduce the harm of injuries on children.

Fu Xiaobing, an academic from the division of health engineering under the Chinese Academy of Engineering, urged the government to make it mandatory for drivers to learn first aid before getting driving licenses.

He also proposed that China should designate one day each year for educating the public about the significance of preventing injuries.

In cooperation with nine other experts, Fu sent the above proposals to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

Others believe it is urgent to create a safer environment for children.

"We have seen, surprisingly, a lot of children get hit on the pavement or places you thought to be safe," said Robert Scherpbier, chief of the Health, Nutrition and Water, Environment & Sanitation Section of the UNICEF.

Therefore, it is vital for traffic authorities to put speed bumps near schools or sites where children often gather, Scherpbier said.

He stressed that the government should pay more attention to children of migrant workers, as "with minimum parental care, the injury risk for migrant children could be bigger".

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