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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.

Since 1989, The following communities See web page have been formally designated "Safe Communities", with populations ranging from 2,000 to 2,000,000.

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.


Key factors in implementing a successful Safe Community Injury Prevention Program

Listen to the community - let them define what they believe are the most important problems

Co-ordinate efforts at a regional level

Raise public awareness to the importance of injury prevention

Include injury prevention in national programs

Ensure that powerful interest groups support the community efforts

Mobilise all members of a community creatively

For further information
Safe Community - An Introduction (book). pdf file



To coordinate a world-wide network of Safe Communities,

Organises together with "Safe Communities" International and Regional Safe Community Conferences

Co-ordinates training courses in injury prevention and safety promotion

Publishes a newsletters: "Safe Community Monthly News".

Involves in other conferences like the biannual "World Conferences on Injury Prevention and Control"

Conducts methodological development and transfer of technology.

Organises networks for community programs

Participates in the World Health Organisations as well as the Swedish Bicycle Helmet Initiative

Conducts research.

For further information about the Safe Community initiative please contact:

Professor Leif Svanström or

Ms. Moa Sundström moa.sundstrom@ki.se


WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion
Karolinska Institutet

Mailing address: Karolinska Institutet,
Department of Public Health Sciences
Tomtebodavägen 18 A, 3rdFloor
SE-171 77 Stockholm,


Phone: +46 (0)8 524 801 43 (Moa Sundström)


Page updated by Moa Sundström 2014-01-20