Objectives: Strategies for injury prevention have been extensively studied in developed nations but not in the developing world. This study sought to determine which mechanisms of injury were common in a rural developing area and which were important contributors to mortality and disability.
Methods: All 614 patients admitted for injuries to a rural African hospital between 1987 and 1991 were analyzed retrospectively for mechanism of injury and outcome, as assessed by mortality and long-term functional status.
Results: The leading mechanisms of injury were transport related (29%) and burns (16%). Burns accounted for 61% of injuries in children under 5 years. Mortality was 7.3% in the series, with 24% of deaths owing to transport injuries. Disability developed in 103 (22%) of the 462 survivors available for assessment, with most disability resulting from transport injuries (26% of all disabilities), burns (13%), and agricultural injuries (14%).
Conclusions: Among injured patients who presented for treatment in this rural developing area, the largest burden of mortality and disability was from burns and transport-related injuries. Population-based studies are needed to substantiate whether these should be priorities for injury prevention efforts.