More than three quarters of all injuries to children in Abu Dhabi occur in or around the home, officials revealed on Thursday.
In a trend that has sparked concern among medical officials, the Department of Health said that between 2015 and 2016, about 6,900 children were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries, comprising 35 per cent of all injuries treated in the capital during that period. They said the majority of the children were Emirati and aged up to 9 years old.
Falling was the leading cause of injuries, accounting for 56 per cent of all registered cases. Wounds, burns, poisoning and traffic accidents together made up the remaining cases.
When it came to preventable child deaths, road traffic accidents were revealed to be the main cause of fatal injuries among children between 2008 and 2015, comprising 64 per cent of all deaths. Drowning, falls and burns were also singled out as main causes of death among children.
"Every day or every week we hear of sad news of children dying due to preventable injuries," said Dr Jamal Al Mutawa, the director of community health and surveillance at the Department of Health.
“It is paramount as parents or caregivers to protect children from possible danger and injury, both of which could physically and psychologically affect a child’s development and future life,” he said.
Authorities said injury was the second largest factor leading to death in the emirate, with the Ministry of Health and Prevention revealing that 624 people died after sustaining injuries in 2016, which accounted for 83 per cent of fatalities that year.
At the launch of a child safety campaign by the Department of Health yesterday, officials said the figures were “just the tip of the iceberg” and labelled injuries as a public-health priority.
More than one in three child deaths in Abu Dhabi are caused by a preventable injury, the ministry said, giving an example of a 6-year-old Emirati girl who suffoicated in September after her parents forgot her in their car.
The campaign, which targets injuries sustained at home, will address risks such as falling, suffocation, choking, burning, drowning and exhaustion.
The statistics did show that injury rates dipped slightly between 2015 and 2016 and have steadily decreased since 2008.
“Looking at the rates of injuries, there is a reduction in fatal injury cases since 2008. This is an indicator for the community awareness and the efforts of different related organisations to tackle the problem to arrive at safer communities,” Dr Al Mutawa said.
But he estimated that for every death as a result of an injury, there were “tens of hospital visits, hundreds of visits to emergency departments and thousands of appointments to see doctors” because of injuries.
He said that many people will survive such injuries, but will live with temporary or permanent disabilities that cause a social, economic and health strain. It is estimated that for every death, there are 22 trauma hospital admissions, 242 ER visits and 3,000 first-aid cases.
“Our objective is to reduce the fatal and non-fatal reported cases on unintentional injuries by increasing the knowledge and behaviours of using safety measures,” Dr Al Mutawa said.
Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, director of public health, said many cases were avoidable and reducing the rate of injury was among the Department of Health’s chief priorities in the emirate.
“This is what we hope to achieve through our prevention campaign, which has become even more necessary in light of the latest figures,” she said.