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Health Policy Plan. 2001 Sep;16(3):322-5.

Newspaper reports as a source for injury data in developing countries.

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  • 1Health Services Academy, Ministry of Health, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan.


Injuries are an important public health problem and a leading cause of death among adults and children. In most of the developing world, with rapid changes in lifestyle, rural development, urbanization, an increase in number of vehicles, introduction of mechanized farming and pesticides in agriculture, the effect of injuries on mortality and morbidity is expected to increase. Injuries have been infrequently studied in developing countries; their importance is incompletely understood and they are seriously neglected in health research and policy. The reasons for this situation may be many, but one important reason is the unavailability of data in countries to assess the magnitude of the problem. Hospital and police records are the primary data source for injuries in the majority of the developing world. Newspaper reports may be an alternative source for injury data. This hypothesis was tested in the Rawalpindi Division of Pakistan by collecting data from newspaper reports for both intentional and unintentional injuries for 6 months (January-June 1999). This was compared with police data for the same time period. The results revealed that newspapers report more injury-related events and for some categories, such as suicides, the reporting was far greater by newspapers than the police. We conclude that the current system of police data collection needs to be strengthened. Newspapers may serve as a comparative source of information to evaluate the coverage of police data.

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