- About Us
- Task Forces
- Special Projects
- Safe Communities
- Contact Us
The Safe Communities concept began its formal existence at the First World Conference on Accident and Injury Prevention held in Stockholm, Sweden in September 1989. The Manifesto for Safe Communities, the resolution of the conference, states that "All human beings have an equal right to health and safety." This is a fundamental aspect of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Health for All strategy and for the WHO Global Programme on Accident Prevention and Injury Control. This premise has led to community action around the world ; actions leading to Safe Communities.
A community can be defined as a delineated geographical area, groups with common interests, professional associations, or the individuals who provide services in a specific location. The principles of a safe community will change accordingly, from place to place.
Many communities are aspirants to the goals of Safe Communities without being aware of it. In fact, it is not essential that community safety to be the point of departure. If a community is empowered to address one issue, it then becomes more possible to deal with other, and increasingly complex issues. The community that has established a context for building relationships, organising community intervention, and achieving results has taken the valuable first steps for becoming a Safe Community.
Falköping, Sweden was one of the first (1975) communities to approach injury control in a comprehensive way for all ages, environments and situations. This was not accomplished by creating a new structure, it was the result of collaborative efforts of existing organisations, associations, and welfare functions.
In 1978, Falköping initiated its injury registration program, followed by an injury program in 1979. In three years, there was a 27% reduction in injuries in the work, domestic and traffic areas. In 1991, Falköping was designated a WHO Safe Community.
The Safe Community initiative differs in comparison to other injury prevention programs. In the former, the leading role is played by the community itself. The term Safe Community implies that the community aspires to safety in a structured approach, not that the community is already perfectly safe. Creative methods of education and environmental change joined with appropriate legislation and enforcement are an important beginning for the safety of a community. No single approach is sufficient for changing existing behaviour patterns. The media, for example, can be a very powerful tool in heightening public awareness.
Programs to prevent and control injuries and accidents must identify and characterise the injury problem and evaluate the effectiveness of injury control interventions. Though epidemiology is not the soul of the safe communities concept, the vital importance of it must be respected.
*All information from http://www.phs.ki.se