Under a project of the Community Public Health Programme, the European Child Safety Alliance currently facilitates the establishment of national action plans for child safety in the majority of Member States. The main priority is to integrate the remaining Member States and candidate countries into the process and to prepare the implementation of the national child safety action plans. The implementation of these plans must be evaluated and further enhanced. At present, Community-wide campaigns are being conducted on priority issues such as drowning and child safety products. The issue of injuries to babies is considered to require particular attention.
In particular, campaigns on child safety should tackle severe injury hazards for preschool children at home (falls, scalds, suffocation, poisoning, drowning), playground safety and safety of child products, the usage of car restrain systems and bicycle helmets amongst older children.
4.2.2.Safety of elderly citizens
The highest mortality rates due to injury are reported among people aged 65 and over, with falls being the major cause of these deaths. Injuries, and in particular fall injuries, also account for a higher than average hospitalisation rate and an excess share in the direct medical costs due to injuries in this age group.
Future projects under the Community Public Health Programme will address this priority area in a concerted manner. Existing good practice and innovative approaches in relation to the respective risk groups will be disseminated among related professional groups, management of care facilities and associations of the elderly or pensioners. In particular, campaigns on safety elderly citizens should tackle hazards for fall at home (floor covering, illumination, furniture, layout of bathrooms), in and around buildings (stairs, handrails, design of footpaths).
4.2.3.Safety of vulnerable road users
Children, the elderly, the handicapped, cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians on public roads are not only at risk due to vehicles. Health statistics show high numbers of severe injuries due to falls without counterpart or when using public transport. These risks deserve much more attention, for example: Better design of foot paths, side walks, pedestrian crossings, bicycle paths, public transport facilities as well as the wearing of bicycle helmets can further contribute to saving lives according to road accident statistics. Public Health action in this field will be supplementary to ongoing Community actions for vulnerable road users in the area of transport8.
A collaborative study will soon identify national and local good practices in this field which may serve as examples to others. In particular, campaigns should tackle hazards due to poor road design as mentioned above, and should promote the wearing of protective gear.
4.2.4.Prevention of sports injuries
Exercise and sporting activities clearly make an important contribution to health and a healthy lifestyle, as well as to physical, emotional and social well-being. Promoting exercise is an essential health promotion strategy for tackling the epidemic of obesity. However, according to studies carried out in some Member States a significant proportion of these health gains are
8Communication from the Commission on a European Road Safety Action Plan (2003 – 2010), COM(2003) 311 (not published in the Official Journal).