Potential of using existing injury information for injury surveillance at the local level in developing countries: experiences from Bangladesh

Public Health. 2000 Mar;114(2):133-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.ph.1900618.


Although injury is a major public health problem in Bangladesh, as in other low income countries in the world, it has gained very little attention from policy makers, or even health professionals, mainly due to the lack of valid injury information in these countries. To address the injury problem, there is an urgent need to develop injury surveillance activities, based on existing sources of potential interest for obtaining injury information. This study is an evaluation of existing injury data sources in terms of prevention orientation representativeness, and sustainability with respect to the use of these sources in injury surveillance at the local level in Bangladesh. The regular injury information sources that have been used in this study include hospital records, post-mortem reports, newspaper reports, and police reports. In addition, 60 health practitioners in the area, representing various categories, were interviewed according to questionnaire, and ten others were interviewed in-depth about their opinions regarding their participation in the injury surveillance system. The information sources were then assessed for their potential to be included in the surveillance system. The validity was estimated by means of comparisons of the different sources. All the existing sources of injury information suffer from certain deficiencies such as, lack of representativeness, low prevention orientation and poor sustainability. Post-mortem reports and police reports have been found to be potential sources of mortality data but not morbidity data. Hospital records can be seen as potential sustainable sources of injury morbidity data but suffer from low prevention orientation and representativeness. The injury information was not consistent from source to source and failed to depict the true picture of injury in the area. To develop an injury surveillance system, a combination of data obtained from several different sources is necessary to compensate for inadequacies in the individual sources and to improve the overall usefulness of the system. Updated with E-codes, hospital discharge records could be used for injury morbidity surveillance, and updated police and post-mortem data can be used for mortality data in injury surveillance systems at the local level in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh
  • Data Collection
  • Developing Countries*
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality