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East Afr Med J. 1997 Dec;74(12):822-8.

Aetiological and epidemiological aspects of acute head injury in Malawi.

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  • 1Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi.


One hundred and four patients (88 males and 16 females) with acute head injuries admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre from July 1st to December 31st 1995 were prospectively studied using a questionnaire. Forty seven (45.2%) of the injuries were caused by road traffic accidents, 42(40.4%) by assaults, nine (8.7%) resulted from falls from heights, two (1.9%) from occupational injuries and the remaining four (3.8%) were of miscellaneous origins. RTA associated head injuries involved 17 (36.2%) pedestrians; 14 (29.8%) vehicular passengers, 10 (21.3%) pedal cyclists; five (10.6%) drivers and one motor cyclist. Malawi males aged between 20 and 29 were mostly involved. Assault related head injuries occurred also in young adult males commonly at the weekend with more than 50% occurring on Saturday and Sunday. Fifty per cent were sustained at home, a quarter on the streets and surprisingly few at drinking houses making them the safest place to be in Malawi to avoid assaults! Alcohol usage was not statistically significant among those assaulted; it was not possible to define its aetiological role among assailants. The head injuries associated with falls from heights (FFH) involved eight males and one female; five were children. Strategies for the prevention of assaults, the various types of road traffic accidents and falls from heights are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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