States can learn from one another in the effort to halt violence, an "enormous but preventable global health problem," the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today.
According to the agency, almost 1.7 million people were intentionally killed by another person or themselves in 1999, while as many as 40 million children are the victims of child abuse globally each year.
Addressing a technical briefing on the issue at WHO's World Health Assembly in Geneva on Thursday, the Director of the agency's Injuries and Violence Prevention Department, Dr. Etienne Krug, said geographic comparisons can prove useful in combating the problem. "Regional differences in homicide and firearm death rates suggest that much violence is preventable," he observed.
WHO estimates homicide rates for Japan at 0.6 per 100,000 -- a figure which jumps to 7 per 100,000 in the United States and climbs to 25 per 100,000 in Brazil. "We need to learn from these cross-cultural differences," Dr. Krug suggested. "Such insight could help in prevention and response."
Because of the sheer magnitude of the violence problem and its far-reaching and wide-ranging impact, WHO plans to launch the first World Report on Violence and Health in 2002. The report will aim to raise awareness about violence as a global health problem and promote increased prevention by the public health community.