Prehospital Epidemiology and Management of Injured Children in Kigali, Rwanda

Introduction: Paediatric injuries are a major cause of mortality and disability worldwide, yet little information exists regarding its epidemiology or prehospital management in low-income and middle-income countries. We aimed to describe the paediatric injuries seen and managed by the prehospital ambulance service, Service d’Aide Medicale d’Urgence (SAMU), in Kigali, Rwanda over more than 3 years.

Methods: A retrospective, descriptive analysis was conducted of all injured children managed by SAMU in the prehospital setting between December 2012 and April 2016.

Results: SAMU responded to a total of 636 injured children, 10% of all patients seen. The incidence of paediatric injury in Kigali, Rwanda was 140 injuries per 100 000 children. 65% were male and the average age 13.5 (±5.3). Most patients were between 15 and 19 years old (56%). The most common causes of injuries were road traffic incidents (RTIs) (447, 72%), falls (70, 11%) and assaults (50, 8%). Most RTIs involved pedestrians (251, 56%), while 15% (65) involved a bicycle. Anatomical injuries included trauma to the head (330, 52%), lower limb (280, 44%) and upper limb (179, 28%). Common interventions included provision of pain medications (445, 70%), intravenous fluids (217, 34%) and stabilisation with cervical collar (190, 30%).

Conclusion: In Kigali, RTIs were the most frequent cause of injuries to children requiring prehospital response with most RTIs involving pedestrians. Rwanda has recently instituted several programmes to reduce the impact of paediatric injuries especially with regard to RTIs. These include changes in traffic laws and increased road safety initiatives.