Nepal | September 27, 2020

Fall injuries major public health concern in Nepal

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, July 22

The Nepal Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need (SOSAS) study has made public the first countrywide population-based assessment on fall injury prevalence in Nepal, identifying fall injuries as a major public health concern.

Its findings reveal the non-fatal fall injury prevalence of 5.23 per cent and fatal fall injury prevalence of 8.8 per cent. Extrapolating these results to the current population of Nepal, it estimates the prevalence of non-fatal fall injuries in Nepal to be 1.47 million. It has estimated that nearly 16,600 deaths annually are due to falls in Nepal and that 14,130 deaths from fall injuries may have been averted with appropriate access to surgical care. “Our findings emphasise the high prevalence of fall injuries in Nepal at a population level. A hospital-based study was conducted in Kathmandu regarding traumatic injuries, the epidemiological spectrum of physical trauma was observed over a period of one year at Kathmandu University Hospital and its various outreach centers in the community,” the report, which was published earlier this month said. Fall from height was the most common mode of injury presented in the emergency department, followed by road accidents.

“Our study equally suggests that fall injuries are the most common type of injuries endured by Nepali people with 37.5 per cent of injuries reported. Road traffic injuries account for 19.8 per cent and burn injuries account for 14.2 per cent. Existing data concludes that fall injuries are more prevalent among elderly, with estimates suggesting that nearly 28-35 per cent of people aged 65 or over suffer fall injuries annually. Our results are not unique in the age category with the highest proportion of fall injuries suffered by the elderly — 65 years and old (8.2 per cent) followed by adults aged 15-24 (6.39 per cent) and children aged 0-14 (5.72 per cent),” the report mentions. According to the report, with nearly 80 per cent of the world’s elderly population living in developing countries, it seems reasonable, both in a moral and an economic sense, to retain an older persons’ capacity so they remain a fundamental resource to their family and community.

The Nepal Demographic Health Survey revealed that 5.5 per cent of Nepal’s population is 65 years or older, while 5.8 per cent of its study population is aged 65 years or older, corresponding appropriately. Though limited empirical data exists exploring childhood falls in the developing countries, the World Health Organisation has ranked fall as the leading cause of injury in those aged 0-4 years.

The Nepal SOSAS study provides countrywide, population-based data on fall injury prevalence in Nepal, identifying falls as a crucial public health concern. These data highlight persistent barriers to access to care for the injured and the need to improve trauma care systems in developing countries such as Nepal.

A total of 2,695 individuals were surveyed in 1,350 households with a response rate of 97 per cent. As many as 379 injuries were reported in 354 individuals. Of these injuries, 142 injuries were due to falls (37.5 per cent) in 141 individuals (5.2 per cent of respondents), with a mean age of 30.7 years. The age group with the highest percentage of fall injuries was adults aged 25-54 years (45.1 per cent), followed by children aged 0-14 years (21.4 per cent). Elderly individuals aged 65 years and older sustained 5.9 per cent of fall injuries reported. Elderly individuals, however, had the highest proportion of persons who had sustained fall injury and 8.2 per cent of elderly individuals sustained a fall injury in his or her lifetime.

Findings

• In Nepal, non-fatal fall injury prevalence is 5.23 per cent and fatal fall injury prevalence is 8.8 per cent
• Nearly 16,600 deaths annually are due to falls and 14,130 deaths from fall injuries may have been averted with appropriate access to surgical care
• Fall injuries are the most common type of injuries endured by Nepali people with 37.5 per cent of injuries reported
• Road traffic injuries account for 19.8 per cent and burn injuries account for 14.2 per cent


A version of this article appears in print on July 23, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.


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