Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A public health approach to preventing injuries and violence: Q&A with Linda Degutis

Injury and violence prevention is a real and growing public health problem and one of the priorities included in the National Prevention Strategy, a major focus of this year’s National Public Health Week. In recognition of National Public Health Week, Linda Degutis, DrPH, MSN, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control will join other public health leaders in a panel discussion today on the impact of alcohol use on injuries and violence. As the Injury Center celebrates its 20th anniversary, Degutis, a former APHA president, reflects on the significant advances that have been made in the field of injury and violence prevention and her vision for meeting some of the challenges that lie ahead.

Q: What is the scope of injury and violence? Where does it rank in the context of other public health problems?

Past CDC director Dr. William Foege said, “Throughout history, the two major causes of early death have been infectious disease and injury.” Today, more people ages 1–44 die from injuries than from any other cause, including cancer, HIV or the flu. The toll of injury and violence is unacceptable. Those of us in the injury prevention and research field know that this is a public health issue we are making great strides in, but there are challenges ahead that we must work to address together. Here are a few examples:

•We could have saved 3,688 more lives in 2009 if everyone had buckled up.

•School-based programs to prevent violence have cut violent behavior among high school students by 29 percent.

•Sobriety checkpoints have been shown to cut alcohol-related crashes and deaths by about 20 percent. CDC’s Division of Unintentional injury Prevention advises they are working on a new data point, but it is too early to provide. Tai chi and other exercise programs for older adults have been shown to reduce falls by as much as half among participants.

To read the full article, visit APHA's Public Health Newswire: http://www.publichealthnewswire.org/?p=2992

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