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Bloomberg injects over 550bn/-for road safety

ROAD safety stakeholders around the world have received good news of a massive financial support with Bloomberg Philanthropies committing USD 240 million (554,343,960,057.62/-) towards saving lives and preventing injuries in low-middle-income countries.

Building on the success of 12 years of investment, the Bloomberg Philanthropies announced on Tuesday to double its support for global road safety in the next six years.

The massive financial investment, from 2020 -2025 is envisaged to save 600,000 more lives and prevent up to 22 million injuries in low-and middle-income countries, doubling its impact to date. Since 2007, the initiative has saved an estimated 312,000 lives and prevented up to 11.5 million injuries.

The reinvestment also, includes a new awards competition to shine a light on low-and middleincome countries that have made exemplary progress in road safety.

“By increasing our commitment, we can double our impact by leveraging the many lessons we’ve learned and adopting new approaches that we believe will accelerate progress,” said Ms Kelly Henning, Director of Public Health at Bloomberg Philanthropies, while announcing the new financial package.

Over the past 12 years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $260 million to curb deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes.

Ms Henning insisted that road deaths and injuries are completely preventable and called for concerted efforts from all key players to make world roads safer.

“After more than a decade of working with our international and in-country partners, we know which policies and interventions are saving lives,” she added.

Road traffic injuries are the 8th leading cause of death globally and the number one killer of people ages 5-29. More than 1.35 million people die and up to 50 million are seriously injured in road traffic crashes each year.

Additionally, the economic losses are staggering-a recent report released by the World Bank found that reducing road traffic deaths and injuries by half could add 7-22 percent to GDP per capita in 5 selected low-and middleincome countries over the next 24 years.

Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health at World Health Organization, commended Bloomberg for the massive financial support towards road crashes reduction.

“The price we are paying for our mobility is unacceptable. We need to do much more to save lives on our roads,” he stated.

“This new investment is excellent news that comes at a critical time when world leaders convene to decide on achieving a 50 percent reduction in road traffic deaths by 2030.

This support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will catalyze action to help achieve that target,” added Dr Krug. The second five-year phase ran between 2015 and 2020, with Tanzania among the countries that were selected to receive technical support to review legislation, alongside China, India, Philippines and Thailand.

A lot of progress has been made over the past five including reducing road crash death toll from over 3468 in 2015 to 1448 in 2019 thanks to the program, under the coordination of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, Tanzania is yet to enact new Road Traffic legislation, which would replace the apparently Road Traffic Act of 1973. According to government sources, the bill for the new legislation is currently being scrutinized at the cabinet level.

Once completed and assented, the new legislation will provide the basis for preventing road carnages as the proposed amendments have into consideration, among other key aspects of road safety, all key risk factors that are directly linked to crashes.

According to road safety experts adopting best-practice road safety laws and enforcing them well saves the most lives. While speed is the most critical risk factor, there has been little progress on speed management.

A 5 percent reduction in average speed can result in 30 percent fewer fatal traffic crashes, say experts. Strategic communications campaigns coupled with police enforcement are key to effectively implement road safety laws and change road user behavior.

Bestpractice enforcement increases seat-belt and helmet use and reduces speed and drinking and driving. According to Dr Hennig, the new funds will help achieve the Initiative’s goals by increasing efforts to strengthen national road safety laws in 15 countries that account for roughly 60 percent of all road traffic deaths globally.

The financial support also seeks to help more governments regulate vehicle safety standards and raise consumer awareness to demand safer cars, so that all topselling cars meet the UN safety recommendations in targeted low- and middle-income countries.

The fund will also support initiatives aimed at reducing deaths on high-mortality roads, including interstate highways, through reduced speed limits, wider use of helmets and seatbelts, and fewer drivers speeding and drinking and driving.

Improve and enhance collection of road crash data to more accurately capture fatalities and injuries, measure impact of policies, and prioritize interventions to reduce deaths and injuries, are other areas of focus.

MASSIVE investments in road infrastructure ...

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Author: ABDALLAH MSUYA in Sweden

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