The good news is, injuries and violence are largely preventable.
For three decades, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Injury and Violence Prevention (IVPP) continues to create, fund, and support a sustainable injury and violence prevention infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Injury and violence to Virginians are among the leading causes of death and hospitalization in Virginia. Everyone is affected by injury and violence, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or geographic location. Although death is the most severe result of injury or violent act, it represents only part of the problem.
The majority of those who incur injuries and experience acts of violence survive. But victims, family, and other caregivers may be faced with life-long system level, unresolved trauma, grief, mental, physical, and financial consequences as a result. Unfortunately, injuries are so commonplace they are often accepted as an inevitable part of life.
What is not widely known, is that injury and violence prevention is well known in evidence. Research shows that causes of injuries are often predictable, preventable, and not randomly occurring accidents. As injury and violence related issues are interconnected, and often share the same root causes, it is critical for public health professionals to work together to implement multi-sector interventions that addresses these shared root causes across each level of the social ecology.
In Virginia, we understand shared risk factors often present in our work across many forms of injuries and violence, such as economic instability, lack of connectedness within communities, risk of substance abuse, concerns in mental health, and issues with social norms. Organizations working together to address these strategies will improve risk for these many forms of injuries and violence through shared protective factor work. Organizations can pool together their resources, and intentionally partner together to have a broad prevention impact across communities.
The program is currently housed within the VDH Central Office in Richmond, Virginia and lives within the Office of Family Health Services (OFHS), Divisions of Prevention and Health Promotion and Population Health Data.
The departments are funded to address priority injury and violence prevention areas, including sexual and intimate partner violence, youth suicide, drug overdose, child passenger and transportation safety, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), general injury and violence, inclusive of traumatic brain injury and drowning prevention, and includes a robust epidemiology, surveillance, and evaluation component.
The VDH IVPP work includes equitable strategic approaches and priorities that incorporate systems and social norm changes that are data driven; and includes steps to minimize the risks of injury and violence by modifying environments, products, policies, and behaviors that facilitate or fail to prevent injury and violence.