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Uganda Reports Wrong Data of Road Traffic Crashes-Study

Police statistics show that 3,880 people perished in road traffic crashes in 2019 in Uganda. Another 9,653 people were reported as having sustained injuries on Uganda's roads in the same year. But researchers at Makerere University School of Public Health questioned the figures after a four-year-long survey.

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The exact figure of the people who perished in rod accidents in Uganda is much higher than what is reported, a study has found. But the reporting remains incomplete because of the faulty data collection approach used by the Uganda Traffic Police.

Police statistics show that 3,880 people perished in road traffic crashes in 2019 in Uganda. Another 9,653 people were reported as having sustained injuries on Uganda's roads in the same year. But researchers at Makerere University School of Public Health questioned the figures after a four-year-long survey.

The researchers studied and analyzed three broad areas regarding road traffic injuries in the country including pedestrian road safety, how road crash data is compiled and stored in addition to emergency care for victims. They now say that data on road accidents is not routinely collected. They lamented the fact that when it is collected, the reporting of the data is of such poor quality, thus compromising whatever purpose it is put to on retrieval.

Bonny Balugaba, one of the researchers noted that to determine the extent of the road traffic injuries in the country, the main data used is that provided by the police but in their survey, they found that police data collection forms are incomplete and lack even the most basic information like the location of the accident, sex of the victims and yet the information is kept on batches of paper files that are often mixed up.

Consultant Trauma Surgeon Dr Olive Kobusingye, who was the lead investigator on the studies that involved 35 randomly selected districts and over a hundred health facilities, said during the studies they used already existing systems to access information and found that while entities like the police can do things right, for instance recording information digitally,  they just aren’t doing this.

When it came to health facility records, which are the second source of road traffic injuries data, they found health workers skipped key information regarding whether for instance, the victim was a motorist or a pedestrian or even where they had the accident.

With such data, Kobusingye says it’s had to come up with interventions that can directly solve the problem and is a reason why they have come up with policy briefs recommending changes that should be made to enhance road safety. 

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They also gave recommendations on how emergency services can be streamlined to offer the recommended care for accident victims with their findings showing some people’s injuries are worsened at the time evacuation to treatment facilities or even by the first responders who offer first aid. 

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According to the study, police transported 69 per cent of casualties and yet they found 75 per cent of the police stations didn’t have an ambulance. With this, police were using pickups to evacuate victims, something that can worsen injuries especially that the officers who handle these emergencies are not trained as first responders or in giving basic first aid.

The Research Associate at the School of Public Health Dr Fredrick Opoka who conducted informant interviews with police officers said that they acknowledged that they neither used defined triage systems nor making proper assessment before transferring victims to health facilities.

Just as police statistics put it that the biggest victims of accidents are pedestrians,  with 1, 485 of the 3,880 who died last year being pedestrians, the researchers say the numbers of pedestrians dying will continue to go up if nothing is done about defining triage protocols to be followed across casualty handling across the country.

Mostly, the researchers point out, accidents happen at unsafe crossing points and yet the walkways, especially in the city, have been taken over by vendors and motorists, and yet no enforcement has been made to correct this since planning prioritizes vehicles over other road users. 

But when this was put to Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), their Safety Engineer Irene Namuyiga said this is untrue as pedestrians have continued to ignore options put in place for them. She pointed out that despite putting in place overhead crossing points on busy roads like Entebbe road, people still prefer crossing the tarmac, which puts them in danger.

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