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Non-traditional data sources for injury control: an agenda for action in Ghana
  1. Kavi Bhalla1,
  2. Koranteng Adofo2,
  3. Charles N Mock3,
  4. Francis Afukaar4,
  5. Noble Appiah5,
  6. Beth E Ebel6
  1. 1Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Surgery, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana
  3. 3Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  4. 4Traffic and Transportation Division, Building and Road Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana
  5. 5National Road Safety Commission, Accra, Ghana
  6. 6Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kavi Bhalla, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 2115, USA; kavi_bhalla{at}

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We believe that one important reason for the low priority assigned to national safety programs in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is that reliable estimates of the burden of injuries are not available. Although official government statistics in many LMICs are sometimes available, most researchers agree that injuries are grossly under-reported. The development of traditional injury surveillance infrastructure to remedy these shortcomings is prohibitively expensive. However, one efficient way to rapidly improve the availability of injury statistics is to make creative use of non-traditional information sources. In this essay, we illustrate this approach for Ghana, where Salifu et al1 have shown substantial under-reporting of injuries in official statistics.

Vital registration

In most developed countries, vital registration (VR) systems provide reliable information on the causes of most deaths. Unfortunately, in most of the developing world, VR coverage is so low that the data are never used for traditional cause-of-death analysis. Nevertheless, VR systems do operate in the towns and cities of Ghana and many other countries in Africa. Although incomplete, they could …

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  • Funding Kavi Bhalla is supported by a grant from the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility. Drs. Ebel and Mock are supported by grant 2D43TW007267, Fogarty International Center, NIH.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.