International Community Must Address Trauma As Growing Public Health Issue In Sub-Saharan Africa

“Trauma has become a silent epidemic in Africa, an epidemic that will only spread as the economy grows,” Ola Orekunrin, a trauma doctor and the managing director of Flying Doctors Nigeria, an air ambulance service, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. “Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s smallest number of motorized vehicles but the highest rate of road traffic fatalities, with Nigeria and South Africa leading the pack,” she notes, adding, “The World Bank predicts that in the next two years, road accidents could be the biggest killer of African children between five and 15,” and “[b]y 2030, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, road accidents will be the fifth leading cause of death in the developing world, ahead of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.”

“And yet, trauma receives only a tiny fraction of the attention and money given to these three infectious diseases,” Orekunrin continues. “Over the last decade, billions of dollars have poured into Africa with the laudable aim of defeating these killer diseases. But that most basic killer, injury, remains neglected,” she states, adding, “Part of the problem is that the solutions are so complex.” According to Orekunrin, “We need to put in place systems to provide lifesaving care for accident victims,” including fully equipped hospitals, improved roads, a high-quality ambulance system, and paramedic schools. She notes, “Africa’s challenge will require an African response — and international support” (10/17).