Study investigates impact of childhood injury in Nepal

Issue date: 26 June 2009

Macchapuchhare- 'FishTail Mountain' in the Himalayas, Nepal Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with a terrain that poses a unique set of challenges for health services responding to childhood accidents.

A researcher from the University of the West of England has won funding from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to investigate scale and impact of childhood injuries in Nepal. RoSPA announced a new funding programme this year that will support three research projects every year for the next ten years. RoSPA established the scholarship scheme after BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels) donated £500,000 to fund research that will have a significant impact on improving safety in the UK and around the world.

Thirty-two research proposals addressing key themes in road, home, work, water and leisure safety, safety education and risk communication were received in response to the first call for applications. Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA Chief Executive, said, “We were thrilled with the quality and diversity of applications received during this, the inaugural year of the RoSPA/BNFL Scholarship Scheme. We are confident that the first set of research to receive awards through the scheme will produce results that will directly contribute to our mission, which is to save lives and reduce injuries. We are immensely grateful to BNFL for leaving such a wonderful legacy.”

The UWE project has won the largest grant (£65k) and the three year project will be conducted by Nepalese researcher Puspa Raj Pant at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health at UWE as his PhD study under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Towner.

The new project will seek to identify the scale of the problem of injuries in children under 18 years in the Manwakpur district which contains a range of environments. The study will also provide an analysis of research conducted into this subject in neighbouring Asian countries.

Puspa explains, “We know very little about how children die from injury in Nepal. The Nepal Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2006 found that 11% of child deaths amongst the 1-5 yr children were caused by unintentional injuries. The impact of an accident is exacerbated by the geographical terrain that can make it difficult for treatment to reach an injured person quickly. Children in Nepal are at high risk of injury because of the nature of the environments in which they live and the paucity of injury prevention programmes.

“I will be looking at the extent of research into childhood injury across neighbouring Asian countries as well as in Nepal. I'll be investigating the scale of injury mortality and morbidity in children and teenagers in one district, the impact injuries have on families and communities, strategies employed to prevent injuries and policies and programmes for prevention currently employed in Nepal.”

The study will be conducted in the Makwanpur district of Nepal, which lies to the south of Kathmandu. It has a population of about 400,000 and includes both hills and plains.

Puspa says that the project has enormous resonance with him personally, “I was born in a remote area in the far west of Nepal and had to walk for two hours to get to school each day. I'm all too well aware of the potential dangers faced by very young children living and growing up in the high Himalaya. I am thrilled to win funding from RoSPA as it will enable me to conduct an important study that has the potential to inform policy making that might help make a difference to people in my home country.”

Professor Elizabeth Towner sets the context of the project, “Each year about 830,000 children under the age of 18 years die as a result of unintentional injury. Most of these deaths are in the poorer countries of the world and are largely the result of road traffic crashes, drowning, burns, falls and poisoning.

“However in many poor countries, childhood injury remains a low priority and the WHO/ UNICEF's 'World Report on Child Injury Prevention' calls for more research exploring the scale of injury, the risk factors for injury and the consequences on families and society. It is very exciting for the UWE that Puspa's project has won the biggest award in the first round of the RoSPA funding programme.”


For further stories from the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, please see:

Research project investigates keeping children safe at home

UWE professor working on UNICEF project in Bangladesh

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