By Gift Briton

Globally, over one million people die every year as a result of road traffic crashes with nearly 9 in 10 of these deaths occurring in low-and middle-income countries, costing them up to 3% of their gross domestic product, according to World Health Organization(WHO).

Being among top five leading causes of deaths for Kenyans between the ages of five and 70 and the leading killer of boys aged 15-19, the Kenyan Government in collaboration with WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies have launched a new initiative aiming to reduce road crash deaths by strengthening laws, policies and actions that are proven to save lives.

Kenya recorded 4,579 fatalities in 2021 as a result of road traffic crashes with tens of thousands more seriously injured. As at 22nd May 2022, a total of 1,816 fatalities have been recorded showing an increase by 9.2% compared to a similar period in the year 2021.

“No deaths on our roads are ever acceptable, and road traffic crashes are a pressing public health issue that we are working hard to urgently resolve. The work with WHO and partners through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety will be key to supporting our efforts to save lives and push forward progress,” said Agnes Odhiambo, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) Board Chair person.

This launch comes as the government finalizes a new National Road Safety Action Plan that aims to halve deaths from road crashes by 2030. The government, WHO, Bloomberg Philanthropies and other partners are meeting to define how the initiative can best support the New Road Safety Plan.

“Road crash deaths are a crisis that hides in plain sight. Stepping up action on road safety is vital, as on top of the tragic human toll, road safety touches on all our lives each day, including getting to work and to school,” said Dr.  Abdourahmane Diallo, WHO Representative in Kenya.

According to him, “By strengthening laws, practices and bringing partners together, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative is key to saving lives.”

WHO estimates that road crashes will cause another 13 million deaths and 500 million injuries around the world by 2030 if urgent action is not taken.

Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety leader, said “Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to partner with the Government of Kenya to strengthen road safety efforts that will save lives. We are committed to supporting proven road safety interventions that save lives.”

Since 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies has saved lives and reduced injuries from road traffic crashes by supporting the implementation of road safety interventions in 45 cities and provinces, advocating for stronger national road safety policies in 21 countries, and improving vehicle safety standards in four regional markets. These efforts are estimated to have saved nearly 312,000 lives.