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Stabroek News

Murder is leading cause of death in males
published: Friday | July 22, 2005


Dr. Elizabeth Ward at the Gleaner Editors' Forum, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on June 29.

Dr. Elizabeth Ward, director of disease prevention and control in the Health Ministry:

WHAT WE have seen over the last 30 years is a tremendous increase in the number of cases of violence ... It has had tremendous impact on the health services and homicide is now the fifth leading cause of death in Jamaica and it is the leading cause of death in males in Jamaica regardless of age.

We know that injuries overall cost a lot of money, over $1.2 billion, and what we do, if we take just the violence-related injuries out of that and look at it, you are looking at us spending, last year, over $700 million on treating violence-related injuries in the hospital.

So, what did we see last year? Over 32,000 visits to all our hospitals islandwide were violence-related injuries.

Approximately 19,000 of those injuries were in males. Fifty per cent of them were age 10 to 29 years; 79 per cent of them were hurt in fights, 12 per cent were in sexual assaults, 37 per cent were blunt injuries, 49 per cent were sharp objects, 54 per cent were due to a fight with an acquaintance and 55 per cent occurred at home.

For the females, 60 per cent were age 10 to 29 years old, so it is even higher in the younger women. Seventy-nine per cent of them had been involved in a fight, 12 per cent were as a result of sexual assault, 60 per cent of them were either blunt or bodily force, 25 per cent of them were a sharp object, 38 per cent were an acquaintance, 30 per cent were due to their intimate partners and 57 per cent of their violence-related injuries actually occurred at home.

GET PAST THE PILOT STAGE

Not all children did badly... Those who had a proper parenting, stable family, children who attended church regularly and children who were in structured, supervised after-school activities did well.

What is our issue here? I think it is that we do know what interventions can work but what happens is that we never really get past the pilot phase, there is always another pilot project. We need to enlarge, enhance and energise our current activities.

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