THE HISTORY OF SAFE COMMUNITIES
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.
HOW DO WE DEFINE A SAFE COMMUNITY?
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
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
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
Mobilise all members of a community creatively
For further information
Safe Community - An Introduction (book). pdf
THE ROLE OF THE WHO COLLABORATING CENTRE
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
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
For further information about the Safe Community initiative
Ms. Moa Sundström firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion
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)