Abuja, 06 May 2019 - Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the Fifth United Nations Global Road Safety Week (UNGRSW) from 06 to 12 May, 2019. Stemming from the UN General Assembly resolution 64 of 2551, the UN Global Road Safety Week has been held approximately every two years since 2007, with each year focusing on a new theme.
The theme for this year is "Leadership for Road Safety" and the theme acknowledges that stronger leadership is needed to advance road safety in countries and communities worldwide. In the settings where progress has been made, it is because of strong leadership around legislation on key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving and failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints; safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care.
Despite progress, road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 05-29 years. Globally, of all road traffic deaths, pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% and motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28%. The risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, with rates highest in Africa (26.6 per 100,000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100,000 population). Every year, over 39,000 Nigerians die from road crashes. In the 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated road traffic fatalities in Nigeria at 39,802, while the estimated rate per 100,000 deaths stood at 21.4.
Speaking during the opening of the event on Monday 06 May, 2019, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said "The Federal Government has already provided seed funds for Emergency Medical Treatment which is 5% of the Basic Health Care Provision Funds. The Accident and Emergency Department of various hospitals and health facilities in the country are also being upgraded to ensure quality care of victims of medical emergencies including victim of road crashes."
Dr Ehanire further stated that "As the secretariat of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention (UNDARSIP) Nigeria, the FMOH has provided effective leadership by co-ordinating and promoting collaboration among various stakeholders relevant in road safety in Nigeria. Such leadership comes with commitment, cohesion, local and international linkages and collaborations with relevant agencies and organizations. As the FMOH commits to continue providing such leadership, it demands the support of all stakeholders and road users in the country to ensure safety on Nigerian roads."
Dr Ehanire highlighted a troubling issue in Nigeria is that the majority of victims of road crashes are young persons below the age of 45 years and constitute the bulk of the economic workforce of the nation. In addition, pedestrians and passengers who are not active role players are the most vulnerable and the sad reality is that majority of auto crashes are preventable.
In his remarks at the opening event, Dr Sydney Ibeanusi, focal point for the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention, Nigeria(UNDARSIP) pointed out "The staggering Statistics of the millions of persons killed and injured each year from road crashes has continued to rise. The worrisome aspect is that 90% of the statistics are from developing countries like Nigeria." He further mentioned that "The idea of Global road safety week is aimed to bring burning aspects and interventions on road safety that has been identified to reduce this ugly trend."
Speaking during the same event, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon who was represented by the Officer in charge (OIC), World Health Organization Nigeria (WHO Nigeria) Dr Clement Peter Lugala stated that "The United Nations General Assembly (GA), in resolution 64/2551 'Improving global road safety,' declared 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety with the goal to stabilize and reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by increasing activities conducted at the national, regional and global levels."
He used the opportunity to remind Nigerians that "We are all leaders in our own right and therefore, this demand for stronger leadership, is for all of us. We must all rise to the occasion to become leaders in Road Safety. The UN community on its part, will continue to support the country's continued concerted and drastic actions towards further reduction in road traffic related deaths and injuries in line with the 2020 UN Decade of Action and 2030 SDG 3.6 targets."