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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 19, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 3
Afghan Refugee Children and Young Adults Prone to Injury, Study Finds

By Kenna Lowe
School of Public Health

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 study.

"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.


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