International Aid, Traffic Accidents

Coups and Contrecoups

~Written by Sarah Khalid Khan (Contact:

Back while I was doing my house job, what most people would call a clinical internship, I worked for six months in the surgical ward of a government hospital in Lahore. Working in the surgical emergency meant witnessing, receiving, and managing patients with surgical injuries, ranging from minor wounds, to firearm injuries (FAI) and road traffic accidents (RTAs) besides other conditions requiring a clinical diagnosis. Indeed studies indicate that most of the cases presented in the emergency department are due to RTAs (Khalid et al., 2015).

Some of the worst cases I remember seeing were RTAs. Most of these patients ended up in neurosurgery as a consequence of head trauma. If one were to take a tour of the neurosurgery ward and go through case files or talk to the attendants, one would discover that most of the cases have a history of RTA. If you were on call and were awakened during the night by women crying, you would speculate that it is probably a life lost on the neurosurgery floor. Patients often stayed in the ward for long periods with an uncertain prognosis.

With urbanization of an exploding population and motorization, the world has also witnessed an increase in RTAs (Atubi, 2012). In Pakistan, the number of motor vehicles on the roads is high and the implementation of traffic rules is low. Road safety is not a prevalent concept and in some places it appears to be completely non-existent. Road injuries rank 9th among the top Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) per 100,000 in Pakistan. Since men are the primary bread-winners, the proportion of male to female casualties is disproportionate; more males suffer disability and death than females (Abdul & Tehreem, 2012). Therefore disability, hospital bills, death and funeral expenses often leave families in bankruptcy.

The situation of road traffic injuries is not very hopeful worldwide either. According to WHO 1.25 million people lose their lives as a result of road injuries and most of these casualties are in low and middle-income countries. Sufficient to say that road traffic injuries are a rather neglected area of global health. Recently there have been efforts to rectify this oversight as RTAs have now been identified as a major cause of death and disability besides communicable and non-communicable diseases. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presented in September 2015 show an advance towards recognition of the dilemma of RTAs and aims to decrease the number of deaths by 2020 (Cossio et al., 2015). Steps will hopefully be taken towards creating policies that make roads and vehicles safer for people across the world. One can hope that these policies will ultimately rub off in low and middle-income countries where the most lives are lost due to RTAs.


Abdul, M. K., & Tehreem, A. (2012). Causes of Road Accidents in Pakistan. J. Asian Dev. Stud, 1(1), 22–29. Retrieved from ISSN 2304-375X

Atubi, A. (2012). Determinants of Road Traffic Accident Occurrences in Lagos State : Some Lessons for Nigeria. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(6), 252–259

Cossio, M. L. T., Giesen, L. F., Araya, G., Pérez-Cotapos, M. L. S., VERGARA, R. L., Manca, M., … Héritier, F. (2015). Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015. World Health Organization (Vol. XXXIII). doi:10.1007/s13398-014-0173-7.2

Khalid, S., Bhatti, A. A., & Burhanulhuq. (2015). Audit of surgical emergency at Lahore General Hospital. Journal of Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad : JAMC, 27(1), 74–7. Retrieved from