The Safe Communities concept was originally launched as an official World Health Organisation (WHO) term in their General Program in the end of the 1980’s. The co-operation between WHO and the Safe Community Movement started in 1986 and began its formal existence at the First World Conference on Accident and Injury Prevention held in Stockholm, Sweden in September 1989. In the Manifesto for Safe Communities, the resolution of the conference 1989 stated that the International Safe Community movement should work with “WHO Health for all” as a vision. The ground pillars in the Stockholm manifesto are:
- All human beings have an equal right to health and safety
- Accident and injury prevention requires coordinated action by many groups
- Health sector have a crucial role in collecting information on injured people, injury patterns, causes of injuries and hazard situations
- Local programs must include all citizens and focus on the most vulnerable
- Evaluation both of the process and outcome of a safety promotion program is important
- An international development work for safe communities is necessary!
All International Safe Communities serve as models for other communities. According to investigations and research the injuries decrease by more than 25 % every year in Safe Communities.
The Safe Community initiative differs in comparison to other injury prevention programs. In an International Safe Community, the community itself plays the leading role. The term Safe Community implies that the community work for increased safety in a structured approach, not that the community is already perfectly safe. Creative methods of education, physical planning and environmental change joined with appropriate regulations and enforcement are an important beginning for the safety of a community. An International Safe Community use the traditional means of control such as economic, regulations and governing by objectives and visions. No single approach is sufficient for changing existing behaviour patterns. Heightening of public awareness is also very import.
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.
Characteristic for an International Safe Community is not only that the community and the leadership in the communtiy are mangening the Safe Community program. The program is also broad and include promotion and prevention of all kinds of injuries such as Injuries of accidents, violence and suicide. It also embrace prevention of the consequences (human injuries) related to Natural Disaster. The program covers all age groups gender. It has a special focus on the most vulnerable.
According to investigations and research the injuries decrease by more than 25 % every year in Safe Communities.
While the movement was growing started a quality management programme leading to a peer review system where the leading communities (now about 400) were labelled International Safe Communities. Up to 2015 In the leading unit was connected to the Karolinska Instutut the WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion at Karolinska Institute Dept. Public Health Sciences. Gradually When Regional Networks and more International Safe Community Support Centres were established the network functions remained with those while The WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion (WHO CCCSP) was encouraged to focus on the quality aspects of the International Safe Communities. A process for quality control has been developed including training of International Certifiers in a one-year program leading to an international accreditation- now 48 are accredited.
Gradually the role for the WHO CCCSP has been developed to be a network organisation for the Safe Community Movement and an organisation for quality management development and less focus on own research. The Karolinska Institutet Dept. Public Health Sciences is therefore no longer a natural base for the WHO CCCSP.
At the 2014 years training course for international certifiers in Lidköping, Sweden, many of the key persons in the movement were present in the faculty and as students. A conclusion of the discussion about the development of the International Safe Community movement was that it is an absolute need to establish the Certifying function as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)- seeking formal linkage to the WHO.