A horrific reminder that guns are bad for health
Today on World Health Day, we must remember that the World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
—Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization (adopted 7 April, 1948)
The fact that hundreds of thousands of people die each year from small arms and millions more survive their injuries but are left with permanent physical and mental disabilities is unconscionable and seriously undermines health. Poor people bear a disproportionate burden of death and injuries from violence, with over 90% of deaths from injuries occurring in low-middle income countries. The most lethal weapons used in armed violence – firearms – have been called “violence multipliers. They can wreak havoc with lives and livelihoods.
The shootings today at a primary school in Rio where 11 children have been killed and 18 seriously wounded are a horrific reminder of the human consequences of the public health crisis of firearm violence and its impact on individuals, families, communities and society, and an urgent call to action to address it.
As a medical organization devoted to saving lives and promoting health, IPPNW calls on governments and policy makers to rededicate themselves to preventing armed violence, promoting peace through health, and securing the well-being of millions worldwide. This is not only critical to health but also to development. Guns are bad for health.