Addressing the Implications of Road Traffic Injuries in Central Asia
A report by the World Bank, “Socioeconomic Impacts of Road Traffic Injuries in Central Asia,” provides dimensional views on the socioeconomic implications of Road Transport Injuries (RTIs) in four Central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The study revealed that in addition to the physical harm inflicted on road injury victims, RTIs also create financial burdens on health systems across the countries studied. For instance, in 2016, the cost of road traffic injuries in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan was estimated at Int$95 million. An amount that could have been channeled toward meeting other urgent development needs in these countries. Therefore, the high-cost implications of RTIs present an urgency for decision-makers to invest more in preventive interventions.
The report also analyzed how developing and implementing policies that target preventive measures can significantly reduce the number of road crashes that results in severe injuries and death in Central Asia.
Road traffic injuries continue to cause immense suffering in the world. Development Finance Institutions like the World Bank can cultivate cross-sector partnerships to deepen research and provide technical expertise and resources that countries need to mitigate the impact while building sustainable infrastructures to tackle the problem and strengthen health systems.
One such effort is the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), a global multi-donor fund hosted by the World Bank to help governments develop road safety management capacity and scale up road safety delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Resources such as GRSF is necessary to help decision-makers to provide timely and coordinated interventions and capacity-building training for stakeholders leading on the frontline of the prevention of RTIs. This includes training on first aid and crisis responsiveness, increasing pre-requite activities and campaigns to enlighten road users, and strengthening Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and hospital injury surveillance and transport systems.
The report, although focused on the realities in Central Asia, presented various dimensions of the health care costs attributable to road traffic injuries — both at the health system and individual levels. It also presented an in-depth analysis of the potential health cost savings. It also showed how to evaluate the costs of the intervention through the lens of effectiveness in reducing road traffic fatalities and injuries juxtaposed against the economic benefit of saving lives.
The recommendations from the study include the following:
- Reduce risk exposure to RTIs by stabilizing motorization levels.
- Provide alternative modes of travel.
- Improve land-use planning practices.
In addition, countries can enforce laws and policies to reduce the cause of crashes, such as speeding, drinking and driving, and using unsafe vehicles on unsafe roads. Sustainable change starts with enforcing road safety laws effectively and efficiently.
The study concluded by calling on more researchers to gear resources toward innovations in road infrastructure and vehicle design to protect all road users and curb RTIs.