Ethiopia: Confronting an 'Epidemic'

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges attended the closing ceremony for the road safety month organised by her Ministry on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at the meeting halls of the UNECA. Demeke handed out medals of recognition for veteran drivers who were selected by the Ministry for having stellar safety records. The theme of the meeting was to promote road safety by encouraging drivers to slow down by highlighting the damage road accidents cause.

The numbers are quite alarming. About 4,597 were killed, 7,400 were injured and over 800 million Br worth of property damage was incurred last year alone; not from war, but as a result of traffic accidents in Ethiopia. This is a country that only has a little over a million vehicles.

Road accidents are fast becoming a major public health concern in the country. Despite periodic campaigns and more enforcement activities, and despite marginal improvements, these are still unacceptably high numbers.

To call attention to this and refocus the multi-stakeholder campaign to promote road safety, the Ministry of Transport ran a month-long awareness campaign in November that included a remembrance for victims of road accidents.

The activities were part of the United Nations campaign to save lives by improving road safety. The global body has designated the third week of November as Global Road Safety Week. Noting that close to 1.4 million people die in road accidents every year, the UN Department of Safety & Security calls road traffic accidents a "hidden epidemic," as more young people between the ages of 15 and 29 die from road crashes in the world annually than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB or homicide.

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