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Road safety - 3 questions for Dr Olive Kobusingye

olive_profile_pic.jpgCommited to safer mobility

Road accidents are currently the leading cause of death among young people worldwide. At a time of rising mobility needs, this makes road safety a key issue.Total is a company with close ties to cars and drivers. Our trucks cover some 700 million kilometers every year. Safety is our number one priority, and we have developed genuine expertise in the field in order to secure the safety of our employees as well as other drivers and pedestrians.Educating young people, training professional drivers, taking action alongside NGOs and institutions, and raising awareness among local authorities will help make roads safer, particularly in developing countries.


3 questions for Dr Olive Kobusingye

Doctor and road safety researcher

Dr. Olive Kobusingye is an epidemiologist and a surgeon who specializes in road traffic accident injuries and emergencies. She is a research fellow at Uganda’s Makerere University School of Public Health, where she leads the Trauma, Injury, and Disability Unit. She has been a Regional Advisor on Violence, Injuries, and Disabilities at the World Health Organization’s regional office for Africa. 


What impact do road traffic accidents have on Africa?

Africa has the world’s highest road traffic accident rate. According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, average rates of road traffic fatalities are 26 for every 100,000 people on the continent, compared to a worldwide average of 18. According to the WHO, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5 to 29 years. This is taking a terrible toll on Africa. Talking about the impact of road traffic accidents requires an understanding of the bigger picture, involving trauma, disability, and the financial and social costs triggered by these tragedies.


How much of your everyday work as a healthcare professional is given over to road traffic accidents?

Generally speaking, road traffic accidents account for 50% of the patients in our hospitals. This implies that our establishments are required to give a significant part of their meager resources over to them. The issue of means is crucial when it comes to patient care, and it is precisely why I developed the Kampala Trauma Score (KTS). This is a tool conceived for assessing a patient’s condition in low-resource medical facilities. It only draws on criteria that are easy to assess, such as blood pressure, the patient’s age, and their heart rate. Other methods require significant means, and particularly advanced IT resources that are unavailable in most African hospitals. For our post-accident care to be effective, the methods need to be tailored to our field realities, and it is interesting to note that three-quarters of my students are now specializing in studying road traffic injuries.


What is your view of the cooperation between the various stakeholders (government, NGOs, private sector) involved in campaigning for road safety?

There has undeniably been cross-sector cooperation in road safety for several years now, and it is an excellent trend. We have tools and guarantees of heightened collaboration between State authorities, the private sector, NGOs, and institutions. Particular attention must be paid to cyclists and pedestrians, considered to be vulnerable road users. African governments need to put this issue at the center of their priorities so that all these joint efforts yield results. By working with local authorities and NGOs, companies can help resolve these problems, particularly by building their employees’ awareness of road safety issues.