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Gunshot injuries in Calabar, Nigeria: an indication of increasing societal violence and police brutality

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Abstract:

Background: Gunshot injuries were rare in Calabar before the Nigerian civil war. This has changed in subsequent years and has reached a near epidemic proportion in the last three years. These are caused by civil violence, police brutality and armed robberies. Objective: To evaluate the incidence, pattern and causes of gunshot injuries in this region and draw the attention of Nigerians and the Government to the above problems for a possible solution. Methodology: Records of patients admitted into the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) with gunshot wounds between April 2002 and May 2004 were extracted. Parameters analyzed included patients' biodata, sources of injury, anatomical site (s) of injury, modalities of treatment and the outcome. Result: There were 51 injuries in 49 patients as follows: The lower limbs 25 (51%), upper limbs 6 (12.4%), upper limbs/ chest 2 (4.1%), chest 4 (8.2%), abdomen 7(14.1%) and head/neck 5(10.2%). Male/female ratio was 48:1. Twenty-four (49%) sustained their injuries from either accidental discharge or deliberate shooting by the police while armed robbers wounded 10 (20.4%) and cultists, 2 (4.1%). Two patients had amputations and mortality was 8.2%. Conclusion/recommendations: The police should be cautious with guns; they and the Government should be alert to the menace of robbery, political violence, cultism and communal clashes. Good Governance, creation of employment, eradication of corruption and political violence may help. African Health Sciences Vol. 6(3) 2006: 170-172

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