Violence decreasing in the Western Pacific, but more action still required

99 people are murdered in the Western Pacific Region each day


More than 36 000 people were murdered in the Western Pacific Region in 2012, making interpersonal violence the fifth-leading cause of death in the Region for those aged 15–29. Ninety-five per cent of those killed are in low- and middle-income countries and 75% are male, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Violence in the Western Pacific Region 2014 report.

Despite homicide rates decreasing by 34% between 2000 and 2012, interpersonal violence remains widespread. Non-fatal acts of violence take a particular toll on women, children, youth and people with disabilities. One in four women in the Region has experienced physical or sexual violence during her lifetime at the hands of an intimate partner.

For survivors, the consequences of violence on physical health and mental well-being can last a lifetime. Survivors of violence are more likely to experience anxiety and depression and adopt risky behaviours such as smoking, harmful use of alcohol, substance abuse and unsafe sex. These contribute to the leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease, suicide, and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

The 2014 report is based on information from 20 countries representing 97% of the Region's population and is published as a regional supplement to the Global status report on violence prevention 2014, launched by WHO, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in December 2014.

  • The Western Pacific Region has the lowest homicide rate of any WHO region.
  • Globally, homicide rates are three times higher than those in the Western Pacific.
  • The Region has the highest proportion of homicides caused by sharp forces (for example knives and other bladed weapons (38%), but the lowest due to firearms (22%) of any WHO region.
  • There is a wide variation of homicide rates across regional Member States.
  • The highest homicide rates are in the Philippines, accounting for one third of all murders in the Region. The Philippines also has the highest use of firearms in homicides (56%).
  • Pacific island countries have a homicide rate three times higher than the regional average.
  • Fourteen of the 20 countries are implementing at least one large-scale initiative to prevent violence, such as bullying prevention, home visits to families at risk, microfinance and gender equity programmes, and support to those who care for older people.
  • No country is currently implementing large-scale programmes for all WHO-recommended initiatives.
  • Fourteen of the 20 countries fully enforce at least one law generally acknowledged to prevent violence such as laws against rape (including statutory rape and rape in marriage), "domestic" or family violence legislation, laws against weapons in schools and against elder abuse in institutions.
  • New Zealand is the only regional country to introduce and fully enforce all WHO-recommended legislation for interpersonal violence prevention.
  • Sixteen of the 20 countries have at least one large-scale health, social or legal service in place to protect and support survivors of one or more types of violence such as child or adult protection, mental health, or medico-legal services.
  • Only Australia has large-scale implementation of all health and legal services for survivors of violence as recommended in the report.

The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence – covering child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse. Individual country profiles included in the report reflect the extent to which key violence prevention programmes, policies and laws are being implemented, as well as services for survivors of violence.

Violence in the Western Pacific Region 2014 calls for immediate and comprehensive measures in all countries to protect people from violence including stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant to violence prevention, enhanced health and legal services for survivors of violence, and more effective use of data to inform violence prevention programming and to measure progress. This regional report is intended for use by governments, advocates and civil society to identify gaps, guide further actions to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence, and stimulate change.

At the sixty-sixth session of the WHO Regional Committee in Guam this year, Member States adopted the first Regional Action Plan for Violence and Injury Prevention in the Western Pacific 2016–2020. Aligned to the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, the plan provides strategic guidance for scaling up of violence and injury prevention in the Region.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Eloi Yao
Public Information Officer
Telephone: +632 528 9992

Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Public Information Office
Telephone: +632 528 9993