Safe infrastructure saves lives, and we’ve proved it

IP_WCThose of you familiar with Amend know that our work is rooted in research and evidence-based proof.

Proving, scientifically, that a public health program works (or doesn’t) is challenging, especially in a developing country where primary government data (e.g., from hospitals and police records) are unreliable. In this context, the only way to gather accurate data is to design a gold-standard, randomized control study and then go door-to-door, systematically interviewing residents — for months, in the rain and the mud and the heat. So that’s exactly what we did: designed a study in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and hit the streets, to determine if our school area infrastructure program actually saves lives.

And now we have proof that it does, detailed in the recently published paper, “School Area Road Safety Assessment and Improvements (SARSAI) programme reduces road traffic injuries among children in Tanzania.”

Published June 2018 in the British Medical Journal’s bimonthly journal Injury Prevention, the paper describes the impact evaluation we did to measure the effect of our SARSAI program on injury rates and characteristics.

We are immensely proud of our dedicated team of project managers and researchers.

SARSAI’s physical strategy is twofold: separate children from traffic / slow down vehicles where children and traffic must interact. It also features community education and outreach.

In 2015 and 2016, we evaluated SARSAI’s effect in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. With the evaluation complete, SARSAI is now the first road traffic injury prevention program of any kind proven to reduce road traffic injury in sub-Saharan Africa.

The evaluation showed a 26% reduction in injuries and a 58% decrease in head injuries at schools that received SARSAI. It also revealed that, for every 286 children whose school receives SARSAI, one injury is prevented per year. The intervention eliminated minor injuries during the year studied (there were none after the program, while there had been 13 before). We recorded four child pedestrian deaths in the year before the intervention, and none in the year after.

With this study, we have proven that low-cost, readily available measures save children’s lives in urban Africa. Period. It adds power to our argument that governments and their partners can — and must — implement the principles in SARSAI both retroactively and when designing new roads and cities. This is an opportunity to save lives. It cannot be ignored.