Commissioners Vassiliou and Kuneva support Child Safety Report Cards launch: 'Improving child safety is a top priority for the Commission'

10/06/2009

The European Child Safety Alliance of EuroSafe released on May 6, "Child Safety Report Cards" for 24 countries and a European Summary Report Card.

Every single day, about 25 children in the ages 0 to 18 die needlessly in the EU as the result of an injury. While we are making progress on the issue in Europe, the inequalities between countries highlighted in the summary report show that the issue of child injury ties directly to major social, political and economic themes. There is a four-fold difference in child injury death rates between countries with the highest and lowest rates, and if individual causes are factored in, such as poisonings or burns, the inequalities get even larger. Of the 24 countries that participated in these report card assessments, the highest overall unintentional child injury death rates are found in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and the lowest are found in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden.

The report cards give the participating countries a clear view of performance gaps and actions required to reduce injury-related death and disability among Europe's most vulnerable citizens – children. The report cards, co-funded by the European Commission's Public Health Programme, score the uptake and enforcement of over 100 proven good practices. The good practice policies relate to road traffic accidents, drowning, falls, poisoning, burns, choking and supports, such as leadership, data infrastructure and professional capacity, necessary to combat child injury.

There is also great variability on uptake of the proven good practices noted in the report cards between countries. Best child safety performance scores were achieved in Iceland, the Netherlands and Sweden, while the countries doing least well were Greece and Portugal. One of the positive results reported is that 14 countries for whom this is the second report card, have all made progress since the first assessment in 2007. Yet there is still much to be done.

In support of the launch of the Child Safety Report Cards and European Summary Report Card, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Health and Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs expressed their joint concern over the unnecessary deaths and the leading health burden that injuries place on parents and families. Both Commissioners state that they will "take on the responsibility of saving and improving children's lives by supporting the EU's and Member States' adoption and implementation of the child safety measures which are proven to work".

While DG Health and Consumers is responsible for consumer product safety and health, other parts of the Commission have responsibility for areas that are also critical to child safety. These include transport, justice, education, and regional policy. To ensure child safety issues do not fall through the cracks, both Commissioners propose to "establish mechanisms of inter-Directorate cooperation to ensure the response to this issue is comprehensive".

This is the same approach that is being encouraged within Member States as they use their report card results to develop Child Safety Action Plans. For example, Sweden's commitment to safety in all policies is one of the key aspects that has placed them among the leaders in child safety globally and that same multi-sectoral collaboration is currently proving effective in the Czech Republic where their multi-sectoral Child Safety Action Plan has ensured a coordinated approach and shared responsibility for the actions undertaken.

In their joint statement, the Commissioners conclude that "safety is not a luxury, but it is a basic human right, especially for children and there is huge potential to reduce the number of child injuries that occur in the EU each year through the application of what we already know works. In 2009 and beyond it will be a priority for the Commission to ensure that Member States enhance their commitment to child safety with allocation of sufficient resources for uptake and enforcement of good safety practices and policies".

Read more: Parliament Magazine 'Safety First' article (PDF 3.1mb)

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