Firearm-related injuries are deadly but avoidable. The case of Kivu, a region in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is alarming. Decades of unresolved regional conflicts birthed armed groups that have massacred inhabitants and injured several children. This regional instability has also created barriers to seeking and obtaining timely care, decreasing the survival rate. This region’s lack of data on paediatric fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries (F&NFFIs) needs studying. Thus, we aim to determine the prevalence and evaluate the outcomes of paediatric F&NFFIs in Kivu.
We included all F&NFFI paediatric patients (≤18 years), admitted at our institution between 2017 and 2020. We extracted data from patient records. Next, we assessed the relationship between determinants of paediatric outcomes using the Chi-square test and the student’s t-test. Confounders were identified using cox regression.
This study included 101 paediatric patients, mostly male (63.4%), with an average age of 15.9 years residing 164.4 km on average from the hospital. On average, they were admitted 2.9 days post-injury, with the most affected anatomical regions being lower limbs (53.5%) and upper limbs (18.8%). The mean length of stay was 52.9 days, and the mortality rate was 4.0%. Also, injury complications increased the mean length of stay and mortality rate. In addition, mortality was correlated with circulatory failure and anaemia.
Paediatric F&NFFIs in Eastern DRC is a preventable tragedy. Mortality is increased by injury complications and correlates with some biological factors. Prevention strategies should be developed to protect children and appropriate measures should be established to improve rates of prehospital care and early hospital presentation to lower mortality and improve paediatric outcomes.