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Bull World Health Organ. 2002;80(5):357-64.

Using mortuary statistics in the development of an injury surveillance system in Ghana.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, USA.



To develop, in a mortuary setting, a pilot programme for improving the accuracy of records of deaths caused by injury.


The recording of injury-related deaths was upgraded at the mortuary of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana, in 1996 through the creation of a prospectively gathered database.


There was an increase in the number of deaths reported annually as attributable to injury from 72 before 1995 to 633 in 1996-99. Injuries accounted for 8.6% of all deaths recorded in the mortuary and for 12% of deaths in the age range 15-59 years; 80% of deaths caused by injury occurred outside the hospital and thus would not have been indicated in hospital statistics; 88% of injury-related deaths were associated with transport, and 50% of these involved injuries to pedestrians.


Injury was a significant cause of mortality in this urban African setting, especially among adults of working age. The reporting of injury-related deaths in a mortuary was made more complete and accurate by means of simple inexpensive methods. This source of data could make a significant contribution to an injury surveillance system, along with hospital records and police accident reports.

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