Possible Research Projects

Evaluative Study of Efforts to Reduce Children Injury
A study of the effects of preventive measures against refugee children's accidents in their local environment and training of families in first aid could be carried out, possibly as part of a broader programme for preventive health. The aim would be to evaluate the effect of concentrated efforts in reducing the prevalence and severity of accidents among refugee children.

One section of FAFO's living conditions survey (Heiberg and Øvensen 1993) dealt with children and injury. Respondents were asked if any of the children in the household 12 years of age or younger had been seriously injured during the previous two months. Some 17% of households state that they have children who had been so injured. The overwhelming majority of these children had been injured inside the home.

In those cases where the reason for the injury was known, falling and burns were the most common type causes.

How can the relatively high number of injuries among refugee children be reduced? Analysis of data from FAFO's living conditions survey gives an indication:

Instead of overcrowding per se, children's accidents inside the home seem much more closely related to poverty. In general, the poorest third of Palestinian households is twice as likely as the richest third to have children who had been injured either inside or outside the home. Controlling for this factor, indoor accident rates are some 70% higher among the poorest third of Palestinian households compared to the richest third. (Heiberg and Øvensen 1993; 95)

It seems reasonable that scarce knowledge about preventive measures against children's accidents and basic first aid among poor families may be one of the factors explaining the findings above. Other surveys have revealed that there is a strong need for increased knowledge about first aid treatment of injuries like burns, fractions and wounds. Correct treatment of injuries before the child can be brought to professional health care facilities would reduce the severity of injuries and in many cases remove the need for hospitalization.

The vast majority of refugee children's injuries are treated by UNRWA clinics, in particular so children living in the camps. If a comprehensive programme for reducing the prevalence and severity of children's accidents is implemented in a given camp, the effects would most likely be documented by comparing UNRWA's health statistics for that camp over time, and with other camps. The programme could for example consist of visits in the homes to give advice about preventive measures, and basic training of family members in first aid.

Both survey methods and a programme for reducing the prevalence and severity of refugee children's accidents at home would have to be elaborated by medical personnel. The lack of recording of accidents within the family registration system should not make such a project unsurmountable if the assumption that the vast majority of serious injuries among refugee children are treated by local UNRWA health clinics holds.

The project would require field work by skilled medical personnel. If a test project is implemented in one camp, it should be manageable for one person with some regional and statistical experience.


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