Injury is the leading cause of death for children below the age of 15, globally. Many children, saved from major diseases and infections, are killed or disabled by injuries. Unfortunately, the Eastern Mediterranean countries reported the highest rate of child and adolescent injuries in the world with an estimated rate of 43.2 per 100,000 population in 2017, almost double the global rate. Highlighting the relevance of child injuries and acknowledging the importance of the research on injury prevention, Dr. Samar Al-Hajj, Assistant Research Professor at the Health Management and Policy Department of the Faculty of Health Sciences, presented her ongoing injury research work during a seminar entitled “The State of Child Injury in the Middle East: Sounding the Alarm" at the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
During the seminar held on June 12, 2019, Dr. Hajj explained the findings of her recent study on the status of child and adolescent injuries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). The Eastern Mediterranean Countries' population accounts for only 8% of the global population, yet sustains up to 19% of global child injury related deaths with more than 130,000 children deaths reported in 2017, mainly as a result of violence and transportation injuries. The Middle Eastern population is disproportionally young, as a result child injury has a devastating effect on the population and lifelong morbidity on generations to come.
Despite its human and economic impact, injury remains a neglected public health problem in the EMR. Lebanon, like any other Eastern Mediterranean country, sustains a high burden of injury. With the absence of reliable injury data, it's challenging to accurately estimate the injury burden. Nevertheless, existing statistics show that injury is a major public health problem that claims the lives of thousands of Lebanese every year, mainly due to road crashes and falls. The alarming status of child injuries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region generally and in Lebanon particularly calls for concerted efforts and multisector approaches to be integrated to save lives and control for preventable and predictable injuries. Immediate actions should be adopted to protect children by implementing strategic preventive measures and informing safety policies to help reduce injuries and mitigate their impacts on the children and youth population in the region.