Pune: Nationwide injury prevention awareness programme launched

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Traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries are major causes of death and disability in India and across the world. However, despite an increasing burden, injury prevention remains a highly neglected and underestimated intervention. The apex body of spinal surgeons in India is undertaking a major nationwide initiative, including in Pune, to address this by educating, training and empowering people in preventing injuries.

The Association of Spinal Surgeons of India (ASSI) Friday announced the launch of a nationwide Injuries Prevention Awareness Programme that will work towards raising awareness about injury prevention, and a spine-healthy lifestyle to reduce injury-related disabilities and trauma. Sensitising policy makers and enforcement agencies towards implementing effective injury prevention strategies will be another key element of the campaign. ASSI is partnering 1,000 institutions, including schools, colleges, organisations and industry bodies across India to implement the programme.

The campaign will be conducted across 20 cities, including Mumbai and Pune. At least 50 institutions, including schools, colleges and other bodies will be part of the initiative in Pune.

Injuries are one of the most neglected health crises in the world. Head and spine injuries are a major cause of death and disability worldwide, including India. However, their prevention is hardly given any priority. Community-based prevention programmes can be highly cost-effective to reduce the burden of injuries.

“To address the lack of primary prevention efforts, ASSI is undertaking a major nationwide campaign to help create more awareness about improving safety, behavioural changes and adopting spine-healthy lifestyles. The campaign aims to reach 10 lakh people over this year through multiple initiatives across schools, colleges, institutions and organisations,” said Dr H S Chhabra, President, ASSI and Chief of Spine Services at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi at an online media conference.

Estimates suggest that one million people die and 20 million are hospitalised every year due to injuries in India. The financial cost of injuries is estimated to be between 0.29 percent and 0.69 percent of the Indian GDP. However, a large number of incidents, resulting in musculoskeletal injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) are preventable as well. Notably, oft neglected conditions such as osteoporosis are also responsible for a significant burden of injuries, particularly among the elderly.

Under the programme, ASSI is tying up with multiple societies across the country to create an army of trainers who in turn will conduct training and awareness sessions on injury prevention across multiple organisations, schools, colleges and varsities.

“Contrary to what many may assume, not just mishaps or accidents result in spinal injuries. Simple, everyday habits like poor posture, carrying heavy bags, inadequate furniture, unsupervised or excessive physical training or not wearing helmets are major contributors to injuries. Simple interventions like wearing seatbelts and helmets diligently, using ergonomic furniture in offices and schools and adoption of correct posture can go a long way in reducing the burden of injuries and back pain. Apart from stressing on the need for using effective safety equipment, the awareness programme will also incorporate awareness on spine-health lifestyles, posture correction techniques and exercise regimens,” said Dr. Gautam Zaveri, Joint Secretary and Treasurer, ASSI.

“Prevention programmes are much cheaper compared to emergency care to save patients’ lives. In fact, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, a leading organisation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of SCI, projected that the US could save an estimated USD 400 billion by providing SCI-based preventive and therapeutic interventions. India, where the burden of spine and brain injuries is very high, is no different,” said Dr. Shankar Acharya, President-Elect, ASSI.

“Injuries emerge from a multitude of causes, including road accidents, falls in domestic and industrial settings, violence etc. Unfortunately, despite posing a heavy health and financial burden, injury prevention remains a much-neglected subject in India. A dedicated approach focusing on increasing use of safety measures, effective law enforcement and awareness can go a long way in reducing this burden,” said Dr Amol Rege, leading Pune-based spine specialist.

Sensitising policy makers and enforcement agencies towards implementing effective injury prevention strategies will be another key element of the campaign. The awareness activities will include creation and distribution of pamphlets on injury prevention strategies and their inclusion in school magazines and newspapers, conducting poster competitions, lectures and workshops, facilitating nukkad nataks and conducting extensive social media campaigns.



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