Public health

Small arms and light weapons are a public health problem: they are a preventable cause of widespread death, injury and suffering.

In some countries, small arms violence is the leading cause of death among certain populations. Public health and medical professionals view gun violence as a problem that can be reduced using strategies successfully employed against other societal health problems (such as smoking-related illness and motor vehicle injuries)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends restricting access to firearms as part of its Violence & Injury Prevention program.

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IANSA has a presence at UN Headquarters these two weeks to ensure that civil society is strong and visible at the 2012 Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA), taking place from the 27th August to 7th September.
 
The summaries below provide some highlights of the work of the Review Conference.
 

The Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, is due to run from 27th August to 7th September at UN Headquarters in New York.

More than a decade has passed since the adoption of the PoA in 2001, which has laid the foundation for action at the national, regional and global levels.

The Society of Nigerian Doctors for the Welfare of Mankind (SNDWM), IANSA member in Nigeria, and Save Africa on Environment by Empowerment Initiative organised a meeting with students at the Meiran secondary school in Lagos. Eduru Emmanuel, from SNDWM, presented a paper presenting the issue of SALW proliferation and its negative impact on human health and economic cost. Mr. Emmanuel emphasised that only reliable data about gun violence can serve as a viable tool for developing sustainable violence prevention interventions.

This analysis of the public health consequences of gun violence by the Institute for Security Studies, IANSA members in South Africa, highlights how cause-of-death data is an essential component of health information systems. Such data can be used to support decision making about resource allocation in health services as well as to establish more effective injury prevention and control programmes.

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An article posted on the website of the Presidential Commission for arms control and disarmament in Venezuela makes the case for a public health approach to gun violence, comparing it to epidemics such as the H1N1 flu.

Latest resources

A summary report of the side event "Health, women and development and the Arms Trade Treaty", co-organised by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Most of the Health Ministers of the Americas signed this landmark 2008 declaration, recognising the impact of guns in injuries, murders and suicides, and recommending greater cooperation to reduce access to these weapons.

In most countries, there is little or no accurate information on the extent of gun injuries. These UN guidelines are designed to help researchers collect this information.

The EU office of the World Health Organisation compiles health-related data that incorporates gun injuries. Their database is a useful resource for researchers, especially epidemiologists.

Globally, there is very little information on the true costs of armed violence. This UN manual provides a methodology to allow national researchers to collect and analyse data on the costs of injuries, including gun injuries.