The Million Lives Campaign

Transforming injury prevention research into public policy will save lives.

AT least 5 million people worldwide die from injuries each year. Two professors in Seattle have declared a global campaign to prevent 20 percent of those deaths, saying it is "within our grasp" to save about 1 million lives annually. Drs. Fred Rivara and Charles Mock of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (part of the University of Washington) published their proposal in a December 2005 guest editorial in the journal Injury Prevention.

Their model was the "100,000 Lives" campaign of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which asked 2,000 U.S. hospitals to reduce deaths with six strategies, including rapid response teams to prevent cardiorespiratory arrests. Rivara, MD, MPH, said in a Feb. 8 interview that the six interventions recommended in their "1,000,000 lives campaign" are proven and already working in many settings.

"1,000,000 lives campaign" Interventions


Lives lost, 2000

Possible reduction

Lives saved

Improving trauma care


8 %


Preventing road traffic injuries


25 %


Treating depression to prevent suicide


20 %


Eliminating child labor deaths


100 %


Reducing deaths from intimate partner violence


50 %


Reducing child drowning deaths


50 %






Rivara said he and Mock, who is HIPRC's director, did not rank the six interventions according to the ease of accomplishing them. "I don't know that these are ranked here except in order of lives that would be saved," he said. Better trauma care around the world clearly would save many lives, he said, and the U.S. system of protective orders does reduce intimate partner violence. He said this is an opportune time for preventing road traffic/pedestrian deaths, as countries such as China industrialize and realize they can learn from mistakes and successes industrial nations have made. "In many ways, it's a chance to start over and try to do it right," Rivara said.

He said they hope to see progress on some or all of these six items a decade from now. "Much research for injury prevention has been done. The task right now: Let's use what we know and apply it to save lives," Rivara ( said to explain why they had announced the campaign now and had called for colleagues to move beyond research and limited intervention trials to the larger world of public policy.

"It's clearly somewhat of a dream here," Rivara told me. "But it's a dream that might be possible if people think about it and decide to do it."

This column appears in the May 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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