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Safe Drive, Saves Lives Campaign: Road Traffic Accidents – The Neglected Epidemic

18 Nov 2020

10 September 2020 (Thursday) – The International Medical University Malaysia Community Engagement (IMUCE) hosted a webinar entitled Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) – The Neglected Epidemic, as part of the “Safe Drive, Saves Lives” campaign. This webinar is part of the Safe Drive, Saves Lives Nationwide Road Safety Campaign which is a collaboration between IMU with the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), InciSioN Malaysia and DriveMark. The campaign aims to promote road safety and incentivise good driving behaviours through a series of education and awareness campaigns in the hopes of achieving Target 3.6 of the UN Sustainable Goals (UNSDG) which is to halve the number of global injuries and death caused by road traffic accidents. This was the first webinar of a year-long series planned to raise awareness of road safety and how accidents impact the healthcare system. This webinar was moderated by Prof Sharifah Sulaiha Hj Syed Aznal, the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs & Development, IMU, and was kicked off by Dr Nhan Tran, Head of Safety and Mobility of the World Health Organisation. He gave an eye-opening presentation on the Global Status of Road Safety.

Dr Nhan Tran highlighted that
There are 1.35 million deaths from RTAs per year.
RTAs are the 8th leading cause of death across all age groups and is the number 1 cause of death among individuals aged 5-29 years of age.

Although there has been progress where the number of deaths per 100,000 population has plateaued over the last decade, Dr Tran noted that the rate of progress is still too slow to fulfil UNSDG Target 3.6 as the implementation of a “Safe Systems” approach is fragmented.

Azhar Hamzah, the Director of Road User Behavioural Change Research Centre of MIROS then gave an insightful presentation on the Road Crash Scenario in Malaysia, noting that from 2005 to 2016, there has been an increasing trend of road crash fatalities, with a peak of over 7000 deaths per year. Fortunately, in the past 3 years, this number has been steadily decreasing to 6167 cases last year (2019). Most of RTA’s in Malaysia involve motorcyclists in the 16-35-years age group and Azhar highlighted that 80.6% of RTA’s are caused by the behaviours of road users themselves, such as non-compliance to regulations and requirements. He emphasized that our efforts should focus on these factors and the age group in order to reduce road traffic fatalities in Malaysia.

The webinar also saw Prof Dato’ Dr Kandasami Palayan, a Professor of Surgery at IMU giving his take on the burden and impact of RTA’s on the healthcare system of Malaysia. He had previous experience of working in a few different hospitals under the Ministry of Health as well as is a current member of the Malaysian Medical Council. He reflected that although Malaysia is striving to achieve the status of a developed nation, the RTA fatality rates are similar to other low-income countries that lack proper and systematic infrastructure. He emphasised the importance of maintaining a National Trauma Database to identify the major causes of trauma and make efforts to prevent them as well as establishing well developed “trauma care systems” to manage victims of RTAs from rural areas. To conclude, he quoted the WHO Director General in saying that road safety is no accident and requires strong and sustained political efforts across all sectors to implement it.

The final panellist in this webinar was Dr Azlan Darus, Head of Prevention of the Medical and Rehabilitation Division of the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO), who highlighted the impact of RTA on the economy of Malaysia.

He illustrated:
In 2019 alone, 38,063 cases of commuting accidents were reported which demonstrates an 83% increase compared to 10 years ago where the number of fatalities from commuting accidents were more than 2 times greater than the number of industrial accidents.
In 2019, SOCSO paid over RM1.2 million under employment injury insurance, where RM800 million of this was contributed to people inflicted by RTA’s.
This has a great impact on our nation, where over 3 million man-days were lost in 2018 due to commuting accidents as RTAs have a massive impact on productive, working-class individuals who are actively contributing to our economy.


Dr Azlan closed his presentation with a thought-provoking question of how much we value lives if it is enough for government and policy makers to do what is required to ensure these lives are not neglected. The webinar ended with an interactive panel discussion with questions from both the moderator and participants from both the global perspective and local scenarios of trauma care systems. The webinar was recorded and has been posted on the IMU Community Engagement (IMU Cares) Facebook page for general public viewing: Related article: World Trauma Day Webinar: Saving Lives from Road Traffic Accidents is a Healthcare Priority SAFE DRIVE, SAVES LIVES

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