Published On: Mon, Jun 12th, 2017

Anxiety over rising injury related deaths

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By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin

The opportunity to present an inaugural lecture in a University is the exclusive privilege of a Professor to ventilate on what he professes ex-Cathedral. Such platform offers the academia, the right to showcase his academic brilliance and push the boundaries of knowledge. It transcends beyond an unimaginable odds.
Unless it comes with elements of novelty, any academic lecture that lacks content or bereft of profound impact in life or society for the promotion of innovative and knowledge-driven research, amount to the time wasted listening to the stale news of politicians who stole money.
His presence at the Akin Deko, main auditorium of the University of Benin on Thursday last week during the 188th Inaugural lecture series of the Institution which was filled to capacity, caused a stair, not just because of the students and the retinue of other egg-heads from the world of medicine, history, and other academia; but it called to mind, drive and deep understanding of the “call to save lives”. And the reason is not far-fetched. Professor Pius Ehiawaguan Iribhogbe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Benin, mounted the podium and took a trip in company of his audience for the academic voyage into world of trauma. The thrust of the lecture was “Injury: Rumination of a Trauma Surgeon”. What happened during in search for answers on how to resolve some complex issues in modern medicine?
The Professor of Trauma and General surgery, had barely spoken for 30 minutes, the inevitable question crawled into the discuss midway when he said: “injuries are largely preventable…”But on the flip side, he cited “global statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), indicating that “the top Eight injury related causes of mortality are road traffic injuries, self-afflicted violence, drowning, poison, war, falls and fire”, while, “90 percent of of all injury related deaths occur in low and medium income Countries which are basically developing Countries”.
Iribhogbe, informed the gathering that 3-5 million deaths occur worldwide due to injuries, while the burden of disease related to injuries particularly road traffic injuries, is expected to rise dramatically by the year 2020 with contrasting consequences. As a matter of fact, trauma, as an epidemiology does not just a mere prophylactic treatment.
Whatever box the reports fit into, according to him, unlike other climes, in Nigeria, road traffic injuries, encompassing motor vehicle, motorcycle crashes and Pedestrians hit by vehicles remain the leading cause of trauma and mortality.
As he forayed deeper into the world of trauma using some memorable and unpleasant medical photographs for illustration, Iribhogbe, explained that the major victims of trauma in Nigeria are the workforce between the age brackets of 15-44 years.
The President of the National Trauma society, listed road crashes and gunshots which range from armed robbers as the commonest causes of injuries, while, poverty and ignorance contribute largely to trauma in Nigeria. He suggested that effective implementation of the legislation on gun control.
He argued, however, that “disaster will always happen without warning…The outcome in a disaster depends on the level of preparation”.
He said though “Nigeria has a high figure of preventable trauma deaths which occurs mainly pre-hospital causes, however, the absence of organized Emergency Medical services, Paramedics and organized trauma system have raised albatross to the nation’s road map towards improving health care delivery for its Citizens.
According to him, the pathetic situation may not be unconnected with reported overcrowded nature of most Accident and Emergency centres in most Federal Government tertiary health Institutions.
“The University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) trauma unit receives 3000 major trauma cases every year barring strike actions. The unit is often overcrowded with patients on the floor. The situation is not peculiar to UBTH. In a multi centre study, we found overcrowding in Emergency departments to be a major problem in Nigerian hospitals”.
In a remark, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Benin, Professor Faraday Orumwense, described the lecturer, as a worthy Alumnus of the Institution and a teacher who has proven his mantle in his area of specialty.
“He (Professor Iribhogbe) is a wonderful teacher”, he said to minimize carnage on Nigerian roads, road users must obey traffic rules and the law enforcement agents must live to their billings.
Responding to the lecture, the Chief Medical Director of UBTH, Prof. Michael Ibadin, said the lecture which has to do with the issue of accident is very clear.
“Remember, the lecturer, Iribhogbe is from my domain. All the works that he showcased today were done in UBTH. I’m quite impressed. I think the message sank and a lot of people would have learnt from it. I think it is something that we must encourage.
“Again, the lecture was a departure from what we have seen in recent times”, he said.
Beyond all the simplistic arguments toward sustaining the conversation on the prevention of rising injury related cases in third world Countries, the fate of trauma patients especially at most public hospital in Nigeria has remained in a shadow of doubt or confusion. Caregivers and guardians of victims of trauma often times labour in vain in walking the tin line between hope and hopelessness; Even as calls for relevant institutions to eschew vices that harm the quality of life of their citizens have remain unabated.

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