By the end of this year, a new system will shed light on how and where Abu Dhabi residents are most apt to get injured.
Injury database will reveal trends
ABU DHABI // The first database of all injuries registered at every hospital in the emirate will allow officials to better address public health issues by the end of the year, according to Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD). Although authorities are able to report on the number of deaths, the move aims to fill the void in statistics about injuries. It is hoped the information gathered can help provide a realistic picture of the severity of major safety issues, such as road crashes, and enable health officials to target public health and awareness campaigns to problem areas. Officials at HAAD are working out the finer details of the database, but expect it to be up and running in all public and private hospitals within months. It will record all injuries, including those sustained on roads, in workplaces and households, such as burns and poisoning cases, and play a key role in a planned childhood road traffic injury campaign that is being launched later this year. Traffic fatalities, for example, are just the "tip of the iceberg", according to Dr Jens Thomsen, section head of occupational and environmental health at HAAD. "The vast majority of injuries are not considered when you are looking at the fatalities," said Dr Thomsen. "Currently, we do not collect data on this. When the injury surveillance system is launched this year, this data will be collected and submitted to HAAD. This will, I think, open a lot of eyes." In the US, for every child that is killed in a road crash 171 are injured. That is the kind of data that would be invaluable to the UAE, Dr Thomsen said. Hospital staff will log injury details, such as the age and nationality of the patient and the time it takes the victim to get to a hospital, into an electronic system that will feed the information back to HAAD. "We can draw several conclusions from the data," Dr Thomsen said. "We will get a realistic estimate of the burden of disease and based on that we can see how large the problem actually is." The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University in Al Ain has done a number of comprehensive research projects on childhood traffic injuries, providing some statistics that demonstrate how severe the problem might be. The faculty reports that between 2000 and 2006, 460 children under 14 died in road accidents in the Emirates. Dr Mohamed Yousif Baniyas, dean of the faculty, said surveillance systems and registries were an integral part of any health system in any part of the world. "It gives facts to the society which show the magnitude of the problem," he said. "Opinions are good, but without factual data there is nothing material to work with. Everyone knows that prevention is often more important than treatment and data from a surveillance system can show where the problems lie. For example, not wearing seat belts, or not wearing helmets in the workplace." In 2003, the university collected data from a pilot trauma registry in Al Ain Hospital, tracking 503 patients over six months. Findings on the "alarmingly high" rate of Emiratis in road traffic collisions led to collaborations with the preventive medicine department. Other high rates of work-related injuries also led to further study to find ways of reducing the rates. "This will be a very good project and we will support it in any way we can," Dr Baniyas added. firstname.lastname@example.org