"Across sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the only killer more devastating than traffic for people ages 15 to 44. For children, traffic is the No. 1 killer. An African is 100 times more likely than an American to die in a car?" "Last week, the United Nations called road safety a 'public health crises, on the scale of AIDS, malaria and TB'."
-Newsweek, April 14, 2008
Sadly, Sudan can lay claim to many of the "public health crises" of our time: malaria, TB, diarrheal disease, pneumonia, malnutrition, high maternal and child mortality. Traffic accidents however, are most definitely not on the list, at least not in Lankien. Lankien would have to be several rungs up the development ladder to claim traffic accidents as a problem. There is no traffic in Lankien! I should qualify this statement. MSF has a vehicle that we use for out-reach visits; occasionally a truck from the World Food Program, or one carrying goods and passengers, comes to town. However, this is not to say that there is no burden of injury in Lankien, it's just that the pattern of injury is different. The main injuries are burns and fractures in children, and gunshot wounds in young adult men.
Small children, toddler age, suffer serious burns on their hands, arms, and faces. They tumble forward into the family cooking fire with outstretched hands. Children fall out of trees and fracture their elbows. These children are of course a little older, old enough to climb trees. Lastly, and most tragically, are those who suffer gunshot wounds. The victims are, with few exceptions, healthy young men in the prime of their lives. The ones who survive their injuries are often left with a lifetime of disability.