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Public Health Symposium 


 Road Safety: Letís act before itís too late


World Health Day - 07th of April, 2004

This year's Public Health Symposium focussed on the causes of Road Traffic accidents, the impact of increase in motor vehicles on public health, trauma care in RTAs and how we can make our roads safer.

The symposium brought together health, transport, road safety professionals, Traffic, and injury experts to deliberate on the important issues of road safety.

Session I : How Safe are our Roads ?

Session II : Road Safety is a Race We can all Win.

Inaugural Session

The symposium started with Dr. George, Director of Institute of Health Systems (IHS), introducing the Chairman and the speakers. He then highlighted the role of the Institute in the various research activities. He spoke about the importance of the World Health Day and how Road Safety like any other epidemiological problem has become a very important issue in the light of the myriad number of accidents that are occurring every day.

The inaugural session began with Dr. P. Hrishikesh, Chairman of IHS stating that the title "Road Safety : Letís act before itís too late " itself indicated that we are already late. He pointed out that we in India have the highest number of accidents as compared to the other countries taking into consideration the vehicles in the country. He said that Road Traffic accident is a non-communicable disease and the three factors that are involved are the Host, Agent and the Environment. He stressed the need to make the driving license issuing process more stringent for vehicle users in order to improve the psychological approach to driving. He then said that we have a defensive approach to driving in our country. He said that multiple factors cause the problem. He then pointed out that treatment of trauma cases in our country is difficult unlike the Western countries where it is better managed.

Then Shri. M. V. Krishna Rao, DG, AP Road Safety who was the chief guest addressing the speakers and the audience began the session by saying that in Hyderabad Road Traffic problems are aplenty and the roads not as well maintained as in other parts of the World. Road traffic accident is the greatest killer like the HIV or some other cause or epidemic. He pointed out that most of the accidents are avoidable. He thanked theWorld Health Organisation (WHO) for choosing this topic for World Health Day celebrations and IHS for organising this event where key players would share vision, experiences and ideas

Session I : How Safe Are Our Roads ?

The First Session began after the tea break with the speech of Mr. K. Sreenivasa Reddy, IPS, DCP Traffic, Hyderabad on "Common Causes of Road Traffic Accidents in Hyderabad". He said that no analysis of causes of road traffic accidents or the remedies are available due to lack of enough data. He said that the role of the Traffic Police ended with informing the Law and Order police about the accident and do not probe into the cause of it. The main task of the Law and Order Police is to catch thieves, dacoits, naxals, property disputes etc. So, the information about the cause of the accident is not available. He then gave the general definition of accidents as unintentional incident that cause loss of life and property to the family of the victim and the nation. He then said that he would term the Road Traffic Mishaps as Road crashes as they were a result of rash and negligent acts. He then pointed out that accidents happen mainly due to Human Error, Infrastructural Error and Nature. The accidents due to Human error are mainly due to Driver's fault, Passengers' fault, Cyclist's fault, Pedestrian's Fault, and stray animals. The Infrastructural errors include Mechanical defects, Unsafe road Geometry and maintenance, Lack of Coordination between road related agencies, Lack of Traffic signeages & street furniture, Lack of Traffic education, defective licensing system, commercial attitude in medical care, and lack of mass transportation. Giving the statistics for the Hyderabad he gave solution factors for Safety as Engineering, Traffic Education and Enforcement and proper treatment of the victims.

Mr. CLN Gandhi, Joint Transport Commissioner, AP Regional Transport Authority then began the Second topic of the First Session on "Increase of Motor Vehicles - A Bane or Boon to Public Health." He started by describing Hyderabad as the capital of Andhra Pradesh, IT capital, Education, Sports and Health Capital. He then said that it was also a Historic, beautiful, a growing and a most happening city. Giving statistics about motor vehicles from charts and graphs he explained the Vehicular growth to be as high as 1.5 lakhs per annum in Hyderabad. He said that it indicated a sound financial position, increased economic activity, enhanced employment, increased traffic congestion, decreased public health and lack of efficient public transport. This has resulted in more vehicles, lack of parking place, increased pollution, decreased public health, reduced concern for the other road user. He then suggested the options to counter the above problem as follows :

  • Attract public for utilising public transport,

  • Put a cap on registration of 2-wheelers & vehicles without parking place

  • Ban on parking on roads/outside commercial establishments.

  • Stagger holidays & timings of entertainment houses, education institutions, offices,

  • Restrict use of certain vehicles on certain days of week.

Session II : Road Safety Is a Race We Can All Win

The First topic of the Second Session was presented by Dr. K. V. Subba Rao, Medical Superintendent, NIMS on "Trauma Care in Road Traffic Accidents." He began by explaining the Concept of Trauma Care Services, as Prevention of Death at the accident site by giving revival and resuscitation methods. He said that trauma in accidents is not just an incident in life, but starts as a chain reaction from the individual to the nation. Trauma is the third biggest killer following cancer and heart attack. Road traffic accidents involving 4-wheelers, 3-wheelers, 2-wheelers, trucks, buses and mini vans, constitute 80% of the trauma. He then talked about the three stages of death and the Golden hour concept, i.e., administering First Aid in the first hour after the accident which increases the survival chances by 70%. He then pointed out what the Casualty receiving stations at Taluk/District Headquarters should have and the Medical care at Teaching, Corporate and Government Hospitals. He also spoke about the Pre-Hospital Trauma care, Transportation and Hospital care. He then informed that Trauma Care Centre at NIMS was inaugurated on 12th January 2004, by Honourable Minister for Health, Govt. of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj.

The last topic of the day was delivered by Mr. Suresh Kochattil who represented the Society for Accident Free Environment (SAFE) on "Making our Roads Safer". He emphasised the role of the three E's : Education, Engineering and Enforcement in road safety. He opined that Lack of traffic knowledge was the main cause of accidents in Hyderabad City. He mentioned there is no magic wand to tackle the problem but requires a 'Scientific Systems Approach'. He stressed the need to shed the fatalistic approach and to collectively address the issue rationally.

Valedictory Session
The symposium concluded with a brief valedictory session, in which all the speakers and the Chair agreed unanimously that a collective effort was required to tackle the menace of Road Traffic Accidents.
Dr. K. V. Subba Rao made some important suggessions like
  • Usage of Helmets of ISI standard.

  • Usage of separate type of vehicles/two-wheelers for children.

  • Take the help of volunteers to enforce the laws and teach people.

  • Have separate lanes if possible for different type of vehicles as is being done in developed countries.

  • Carry our some research work as to how the issue was being tackled in  advanced countries.

Then, Dr. K. Satish Kumar, Faculty in Environmental Health of IHS who was the Chief Rapporteur for the Symposium delivered the vote of thanks addressing the Chairperson and all the speakers for their thought provoking presentations.

Then, Dr. P. Hrishikesh the Chairman of IHS presented the Chairperson and all the speakers with momentos and thanked everyone for making the event a successful one .



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