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The burden of trauma in Tanzania: Analysis of prospective trauma registry data at regional hospitals in Tanzania

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journal contribution
posted on 26.10.2020, 17:13 by HR Sawe, LA Wallis, EJ Weber, JA Mfinanga, TJ Coats, TA Reynolds
Background: Trauma contributes significantly to the burden of disease and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Like most of SSA, Tanzania lacks prospective trauma registries (TRs), resulting in poor and inconsistent availability of injury data. A model TR was implemented at five representative regional hospitals in Tanzania; the TR incorporates the variables recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Data Set for Injury. This study characterises the burden of trauma seen at five regional hospital Emergency Units (EUs) in Tanzania using data from this new TR. Methods: This prospective descriptive study used TR data from EUs of five regional Hospitals in Tanzania between February 2019 to September 2019. Descriptive statistics were calculated for mechanism of injury, injury severity, disposition and mortality. Injury severity scores were calculated. We determined relative risk for mortality by injury type. Results: Over a seven-month period, 6,302 (9.6%) patients presented to these EUs with trauma-related complaints. They had a median age of 27 (IQR: 19–37) years and 71.3% were male. Most patients (76.6%) were self-referred and presented to EU on motorized (two or three-wheeler) vehicle (55.9%). Road traffic accidents (RTAs) 3786 (60.3%) were the most common mechanism of injury. Most patients (63.3%) presented with injuries to the upper and lower extremities, while few (2.0%) had injuries to the chest. The overall mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 9 (Interquartile Range (IQR): 4–13], and varied by hospital. Total 24-hour mortality was 3.3% and 126 (2.1%) patients died while receiving care at the EU. Among those who died, 156 (81.7%) had an intracranial injury; relative risk of death was [13.3 (CI95%: 9.3 -19.1), p<0.0001] for intracranial injuries compared to other injury patterns. Conclusions: TR from these five Tanzanian regional hospitals has provided an opportunity to more accurately describe the country's burden of injury. Having sufficient data for ISS and other key trauma variables allows us to compare the burden and outcomes of trauma in Tanzania with other countries, which will help to quantify an accurate burden of injury, inform quality improvement initiatives, and suggest where to focus preventative measures.



Injury, 2020,

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Department of Cardiovascular Sciences


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Elsevier BV





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