Reducing Home Injuries in Central and Eastern Europe

Dr Erwin Van Kerschaver

Deepa Grover – Regional Advisor , Early Childhood Development, UNICEF and Octavian Bivol, Regional Advisor, Health Systems and Policy, UNICEF

UNICEF is taking a lead on developing strategies which will help reduce the distressingly high number of child home injuries in central and eastern Europe.The European Child Safety Alliance and several child health experts have been invited by UNICEF CIS CEE regional offices (Central Independent States and Central Eastern Europe countries) to participate in the strategic planning process and framework development to implement child wellbeing home visits throughout the individual countries of Eastern Europe. UNICEF hosted a first meeting of the Home Visiting Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in Geneva on February 4 - 5. Other participants include representatives from health child programmes including WHO, various European and North American university hospitals and national health departments.

UNICEF is working to reintroduce these programmes back into the countries of this Region as they have been shown to be important to early childhood development. Countries such as the UK and Sweden have had Child Visitation programmes for over 100 years, and can model the beneficial role which home visitation programmes play in protecting child health and in the reduction of injuries for young children.

Evidence states that:

  • Home based social support, such as home visit programmes for new mothers, has the potential to significantly reduce rates of child injury.
  • Supportive home visits for families with young children provide education regarding issues such as use of window bars, stair gates, other home safety equipment, whilst also discouraging use of unsafe products such as baby walkers, bath seats, and identifying potential hazards in the household.
  • Availability, accessibility, cost and ease of use of the equipment recommended during home visits furthermore have an impact on their uptake, and efforts are also made to provide safety equipment at lower cost.

The Home Visitation TAG discussed a cohesive regional approach to strengthen child wellbeing and began to draft workplans and resource requirements for each of the thematic working groups. The European Child Safety Alliance applauds these steps forward and looks forward to further supporting the endeavor.

For more information on safety in the home, including fact and tipsheets for a range of home injury risks see: Products and Home Safety.

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