Injuries, trauma and road accidents killing more people in Ghana than three major infectious diseases

Injuries, trauma and road traffic accidents kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Ghana.

Globalization, urbanization, motorization and other environmental factors are among some reasons behind these injuries and trauma, which usually come with huge implications such as disability, loss of income, huge medical care, legal suits and other socio-economic difficulties.

These became known during a conference on a Pediatric Fracture Solutions for Ghana (PFSG) project, organised by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra.

The conference was aimed at throwing light on the activities of the project, which focused on reducing disability, morbidity and mortality from paediatrics musculoskeletal trauma through prevention education and by improving clinical care provided by doctors, nurses, allied health care workers, first interveners and primary caregivers.

According to statistics made available, every year millions of people die globally from motor accidents, violence and other forms of injury, with 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in countries such as Ghana

More often than not, victims of injuries and trauma never receive medical care at a clinic or hospital due to various reasons with poverty compelling families of victims to resort to traditional bonesetters, which sometimes end up with poor outcomes such as amputations that are preventable.

It is important to improve injury prevention and trauma care because people, who do not receive proper initial care for injuries, often end up with disability or death and experts have noted that eliminating these problems could save millions of lives per year.

The missing link has been the inadequacy of facilities, trauma surgeons and relevant caregivers to manage paediatric trauma and fractures in countries such as Ghana.

To address some of these challenges, a global organisation, AO Alliance responded to the problem in Ghana, through the Pediatric Fracture Solutions for Ghana project.

Surgeons to lead this project were pooled from major orthopedic centres in the country including the all the teaching hospital,  and other public and private health facilities, with Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health serving as partners in the implementation of the project.

The four-year project, funded by UBS Optimus Foundation and AO Alliance, was executed from 2017 to 2020 with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons being the lead implementing agency.

The project organised courses that targeted the training of 720 health personnel over the 4-year period in various programmes related to injuries and trauma.

For instance, over this period, 233 healthcare workers were trained in the basic principles of paediatric fracture management for operating room personnel.

In addition, in response to the absence of a trauma registry in the country, the project established centres in four teaching hospitals across the country. These are the Cape Coast, Korle Bu, Komfo Anokye and the Tamale Teaching Hospitals. As a result, over 11,000 cases were recorded over the four-year period of the project.

Similarly, treatment subsidy facilities were established in the Cape Coast and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals to assist needy paediatric trauma patients, More than 400 patients benefitted from the facility.

A critical aspect of the project was a bonesetter mapping and stakeholder engagement and this resulted in an engagement with 35 and 34 bonesetters in Ashanti and Central Regions respectively.

To use the media to effectively create awareness on childhood fractures and management, various media training programmes were organised for 107 journalists across the country to equip journalists to report effectively on fracture and trauma in Ghana

An AOA journalism award to recognise excellence in Childhood Fractures and Injury Reporting has been instituted to motivate journalists to report more on trauma.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons are managing the annual award. Two journalists were awarded in 2019 during the GJA Annual Award ceremony.

A social media aspect was also initiated through a programme dubbed “TroTro Diaries” with over 351,000 followers.

TroTro Diaries is a community of commuters and travellers sharing their daily commuting or traveling experiences. It has functions on traffic updates and reporting road crashes with educative posts and quizzes on injury prevention and management.

By Eunice Menka

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