1 June 2011
Injuries contribute significantly to the rising morbidity and mortality attributable to non-communicable diseases in the developing world. Unfortunately, active injury surveillance is lacking in many developing countries, including Kenya. This study aims to describe and identify causes of and risk factors for fatal injuries in two slums in Nairobi city using a demographic surveillance system framework. The causes of death are determined using verbal autopsies. We used a nested case-control study design with all deaths from injuries between 2003 and 2005 as cases. Two controls were randomly selected from the non-injury deaths over the same period and individually matched to each case on age and sex. We used conditional logistic regression modeling to identity individual- and community-level factors associated with fatal injuries. Intentional injuries accounted for about 51% and unintentional injuries accounted for 49% of all injuries. Homicides accounted for 91% of intentional injuries and 47% of all injury-related deaths. Firearms (23%) and road traffic crashes (22%) were the leading single causes of deaths due to injuries. About 15% of injuries were due to substance intoxication, particularly alcohol, which in this community comes from illicit brews and is at times contaminated with methanol. Results suggest that in the pervasively unsafe and insecure environment that characterizes the urban slums, ethnicity, residence, and area level factors contribute significantly to the risk of injury-related mortality.