Violence has become one of the leading public health issues of our time. It is defined by the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. No country or community is untouched by violence. The Eastern Mediterranean Region is definitely no exception.
Not only is violence often seen as an inevitable part of human life that cannot be prevented, but even when and if prevention is considered, it is commonly perceived as an issue for law and order, not for health. The role of the health sector is not seen beyond addressing the consequences related to health, particularly physical health. However this set-up is rapidly changing with the success of public health approaches to other environmental and behaviour-related health problems, such as heart diseases, smoking and HIV/AIDS.
Besides the human toll a substantial proportion of the costs incurred by violence are health-related. This gives the health sector a big stake both in prevention and response to violence and its consequences.
Along this line, the World Health Organization launched the first World report on violence and health in 2002. The report aimed to raise awareness about the problem of violence, to make the case that violence is preventable, and to highlight the crucial role of public health in addressing its causes and consequences. The Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean is following the guidelines and recommendations of the World Report on Violence and Health to implement programmes and draft strategies to address this menace in the Region and its countries.