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Wrong road use takes toll

Friday, November 03, 2017

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Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said irresponsible road use is having an astronomical impact on the health care system. He was speaking at the 7th Annual Grennell's International Safety Workshop opening ceremony held at the Courtyard By Marriott Kingston in New Kingston yesterday.

“A study done by the University Hospital of the West Indies, looking at the cost of stay and treatment of a rider who sustained head injuries — as he was not wearing a helmet — can be as high as $16 million. That is just one case. Think about the hundreds of times this happens every year,” he said.

These costs would include CT (computerised tomography) scans, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), X-rays, intensive unit care, and other curative treatments.

He also revealed that the Kingston Public hospital has already seen over 1,000 trauma cases related to motor vehicle accidents this year.

“We need a Wholistic and coordinated approach to road safety… that can start with curriculum interventions before young people get their licence,” said Tufton.

Also addressing the workshop was Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council. She revealed there is a 15 per cent reduction in fatalities for 2017 in comparison to 2016.

“We are encouraged by the reduction in the numbers. But we must point out that of the 272 fatalities recorded this year, 58 per cent are motorcyclists and pedestrians,” she said.

Fletcher said that deaths recorded each year show only a fraction of the individuals affected by improper road use.

“The story of 272 who have died is not the full story... many more are injured than those who die. These individuals show up at hospitals bleeding with limbs mangled, needing surgery to correct massive internal damage — even hysterectomies — and have life-long injuries. But they are behind closed doors; they move from the hospitals to rehab.

“Road safety gives us the opportunity to reduce the costs to the country. It is also a sustainable development issue. The one to two per cent growth Jamaica wants is wiped out just in direct cost [of health care for road traffic injuries]. Tickets and fines should be used to deter particular behaviours,” said Fletcher, before urging the minister to ensure the tabling and passing of the Road Traffic Act before year end.

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