Injury surveillance data paramount for injury prevention in India

The Government of India recognises that one of the major gaps in planning and implementing injury related prevention strategies is the lack of realistic data on the exact nature and spectrum of injuries reported in our hospitals.

The Government of India recognises that one of the major gaps in planning and implementing injury related prevention strategies is the lack of realistic data on the exact nature and spectrum of injuries reported in our hospitals. On the occasion of the Road Safety Week, The George Institute for Global Health has called for a multi-sectoral approach that uses the existing health and police data and links it with the insurance data, including PM-Jay to get the correct representation of the nature and magnitude of injuries for preventing them in India.

“All existing data sources have their limitations as to “who” the system captures. For example, police data only reports registered medico-legal or direct case reports which are not representative of all injuries in the populations. Similarly, health data is also limited in its representativeness of injuries in the community. There is a need to address these gaps through a multi-sectoral approach and with an appropriate web-based data collection tool, which will, of course, contribute significantly to a comprehensive injury surveillance system in India,” says Dr. Jagnoor, Senior Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health.

India has one of the highest road traffic mortality rates at 17.6/100,000 population. It also has a decentralised governance system, making the implementation of the approach of ‘health in all policies’ challenging. However, using MISA to develop issue-centered and focused strategies has been successful (e.g. in HIV, tobacco control). As the estimated cost for road injuries is 3 per cent of the GDP and the total health budget of India is 1.2 per cent of GDP, there are resource constraints to reducing the burden of road injuries in India. There is high out of pocket expense, with road injuries contributing to over 30 per cent of catastrophic health expenditure. This will clearly have a significant contribution to the cost of Universal Health Coverage and this makes a strong case for prevention of road injuries. Dr Jagnoor emphasises that “Health foots the bill for road injuries, prevention of road injuries largely depends on sectors other than health.” Prevention needs, Safe System Approach where the action of sectors other than health is pivotal.  These sectors include urban design- planning and development, the automobile manufacturing industry, and legal – home affairs. In addition, recent incidents on public and shared transport have raised issues around violence against women and equity in access to safe transport; this needs urgent attention too.