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What will it take to prevent global violence?

September 7, 2011

Dr. Etienne Krug of the WHO Department of Injury and Violence Prevention challenged participants to “go home and decide how you will help move violence prevention forward” at the conclusion of the two-day 5th Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention meeting held September 6-7 in Cape Town, South Africa. He had opened the meeting noting that it was fitting we were in South Africa because it was this country that brought the resolution on violence as a leading worldwide public health problem to the 1996 World Health Assembly that helped create the groundwork for this campaign.

IPPNW Aiming for Prevention activists Robert Mtonga (Zambia), Daniel Bassey (Nigeria), Andrew Winnington (New Zealand) and I joined more than 250 others at the meeting that was designed to review progress on international violence prevention efforts, and help create a blueprint for progress  over the next several years.

What will it take? That was the topic of discussions both formal and informal during this meeting, including at the business meeting of the WHO Violence Prevention Alliance of which IPPNW is an active member. Ideas have ranged from sharing and twinning best practices to linking violence to the social determinants of health in more concrete ways, but the overarching theme was that we need to actively promote the concept that ” violence is preventable.”

A multitude of ways to accomplish this were presented by researchers, educators, advocates and others, from improving child welfare to education on conflict resolution, but there seemed to be a consensus that until violence is seen as an impediment to health and development and prioritized by both states and NGOs we will not move forward fast enough. We need political traction and a deeper understanding that health, wellness and progress cannot be achieved in unsafe and violent environments.

IPPNW delegates left the meeting headed for research projects, organizing, and political action, our ongoing way of answering the call from Dr. Krug.

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