Pedestrians are the main road crash victims, with traffic injuries constituting about 12.5% of all deaths in Qatar, an official said yesterday. Traffic injuries cause more deaths than cancer or cardiovascular diseases.
As many as 92% of pedestrian victims are expatriates, mostly from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“Pedestrians are Qatar’s most vulnerable road users, with 71% of them dying on the scene,” said Hamad General Hospital (HGH) Trauma Surgery section Injury Prevention director Dr Rafael Consunji.
“Every year, about 80 pedestrians die in Qatar and more than 200 suffer from severe injuries that require hospitalisation,” Consunji said.
He was addressing an event held as part of the Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week, which is being observed until May 12. The week, dedicated to pedestrian safety, is being marked in Qatar by a series of programmes and the campaign – “Important Steps for Pedestrian Safety in Qatar” – has been designed to reduce fatalities and injuries.
Consunji explained that the number of pedestrians involved in road traffic injuries that required hospitalisation at the Hamad General Hospital’s Trauma Surgery section had risen from around 10% in 2007 to 12% in 2011 and the numbers were still on the rise.
The Hamad General Hospital’s Trauma Surgery section admits a total of 1,700 patients every year.
“The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 has identified pedestrian safety as a priority health concern owing to the fact that a greater proportion of pedestrians are killed or injured on our roads than the global average. More must be done to protect pedestrians through the education of both pedestrians and drivers, the construction of more pedestrian-friendly roads and the enforcement of rules aimed at keeping pedestrians safe,” the official suggested.
He said the week would draw attention to the urgent need to better protect pedestrians worldwide as well as generate action on the measures needed to do so, contributing to achieving the goal of the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020” to save at least 5mn lives.
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users owing to the fact that they do not have any protective barriers between them and other road users. Consunji said that from 2008 up to this year, there was a 31% increase in the number of pedestrian deaths due to road traffic injuries in Qatar with most victims sustaining multiple fractures.
One in three victims die in the hospital.
Consunji also said that 27% of all road trauma victims were pedestrians with a large number of them being Nepalis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
“We realise that most of the incidents happen during the weekends, in the cooler months, late afternoon, early morning and evening and alcohol involvement was noted in some cases,” he said.
He stated that other victims most at risk of being knocked down by a vehicle were those expats coming from a country where motorists drove on the left side of the road.
While noting that the highest risk group for road traffic injuries were children aged between five and nine years, the officials said: “One in six victims was a child, younger than 14 years of age. We actually see children aged two-and-a-half years sustaining severe injuries and one in every 13 cases die.”
He added that more pedestrians were injured on Thursdays and Fridays. “Evening hours between 3pm-9pm and morning hours between 6am-9am are thought to be the most dangerous. And one in nine victims will succumb to their injuries and those that survive will suffer from moderate to severe injuries requiring seven days in the hospital,” Consunji said.
Hamad General Hospital’s Trauma, Vascular and General Surgery sections head Dr Hassan al-Thani said that trauma was a leading cause of death in the young adult population within the Gulf region.
“Qatar is one of the first countries outside the US to establish a complete trauma system to address the growing numbers of people falling victim to serious injury occurring mostly on the road and at work,” he said.
“A major part of a trauma system is injury prevention: preventing injuries from happening in the first place. As medical professionals and road users, we will work with other stakeholders to raise awareness about road safety and to participate in, and implement, best practice programmes in order to make Qatar’s roads safer,” he added.