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National public health week 2011: Live injury-free

April 5, 2011 — Each year since 1995, National Public Health Week has been celebrated during the first week in April. Organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA), the national campaign aims to raise awareness about public health topics among the general public, health care providers, and policymakers.

National Public Health Week 2011, which takes place April 4 – 10, centers on the theme “Safety is NO Accident: Living Injury-Free.” Accidental injuries, including car crashes and burns, rank among the top 10 causes of death for people ages 1 – 44 and all injuries account for 12% of annual health care spending—up to $69 billion per year, according to APHA.

Harvard School of Public Health has made key contributions to public and workplace safety and injury prevention over the past few decades, in areas ranging from drunk driving to gun control. The Harvard Alcohol Project, launched in 1988, introduced and popularized the concept of the “designated driver,” fundamentally altering social norms relating to drinking and driving; by 1998, according to the Roper Poll, a majority of adults who drink had acted as a designated driver and/or been driven home by one.

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC) has been instrumental in such areas as building the body of scientific knowledge about firearms and public health and training injury professionals. In partnership with city leadership, the HICRC founded the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center in Boston, working collaboratively to build community capacity for youth violence prevention and to create a model data system on youth violence.

The Harvard Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health plays a prominent role in preparing leaders in the arena of occupational safety and health.

— Rachel Johnson