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Armed Violence: A Health Problem, a Public Health Approach

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Abstract

At the World Health Assembly in 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared violence “a leading worldwide public health problem” and called for public health strategies to address it. The WHO's call to action, as well as an international political movement that is gaining strength, has helped galvanize health professionals in many countries to employ the tools of public health and their medical skills to better understand the causes of violence, to use research findings to influence policy, and to animate statistics with a human face. This paper reviews the scope of the problem, with a focus on armed violence with small arms and light weapons. It presents a history of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War's (IPPNW) involvement in this issue. A case example from IPPNW/Zambia demonstrates how health community involvement can raise awareness about armed violence and its risk factors, and influence policy changes.

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Correspondence to Maria Valenti.

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Leaders of a special project of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War describe a public health crisis in many African countries caused by small arms and light weapons. These weapons kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, leaving millions more maimed, injured, disabled, and traumatized. They summarize efforts to reduce the adverse health effects, beginning with public health surveillance and actions to influence policy.

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Valenti, M., Ormhaug, C., Mtonga, R. et al. Armed Violence: A Health Problem, a Public Health Approach. J Public Health Pol 28, 389–400 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jphp.3200150

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jphp.3200150

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