Pakistan is home to 2 million Afghan refugees who fled
a communist coup and Soviet occupation in 1978. A study by
researchers from Johns Hopkins found that Afghan refugees
under the age of 29 years experience more injuries than
their older counterparts and children in developed
countries. In what is believed to be the first study of its
kind of Afghan refugees, the authors recommend that injury
prevention strategies be implemented in refugee camps. The
study is published in the September issue of Injury
Control and Safety Promotion.
"Injuries, as a result of unsafe play activities, poor
home construction, open fires, heavy traffic and poor
working conditions, put refugees at greater risk of injury
both within and outside camps," said Adnan A. Hyder, senior
author of the study and an assistant professor and Leon
Robertson Faculty Development Chair in the
Bloomberg School of Public
Health Department of
International Health and
Center for Injury Research and Policy. "The number of
refugee settlements continues to rise globally, so
understanding the burden of injury in these communities is
paramount to determining appropriate health policy. It is
clear that tailored injury-prevention research should be
completed. Injury-prevention strategies should then be
integrated into refugee health care programs."
Study co-author David Sugerman, an assistant resident
in the School of Medicine's
Department of Emergency Medicine, said, "Detailed
information is necessary for planning both preventive and
emergency medical care in vulnerable populations such as
refugees; this study provides us with evidence that
injuries impact long-term refugee populations."
The Hopkins researchers reviewed data previously
collected by Hyder and colleagues at a refugee camp near
the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan in June and July 2002.
The researchers found 112 injuries to refugees aged 1 to 96
years; a majority (80) were incurred by refugees under the
age of 29 years. Injury from falls made up 48 percent of
cases; assaults and road traffic injuries accounted for 15
percent each; and burns and bites, 11 percent each.
Refugees 15 to 29 years old had the largest number of
injuries, as well as the highest incidence of injury. The
researchers also found that men were almost twice as likely
to be injured as women.
Sugerman, Hyder and Khurram Nasir co-authored the
"Child and Young Adult Injuries Among Long-Term Afghan
Refugees" used data from the Afghan Refugee Injury Survey,
which was supported by the Johns Hopkins Center for Refugee
and Disaster Response.