Objectives In Vietnam current public health statistics result in a substantial undercount of injuries and fail to distinguish injuries that occur while working. The objective of this study was to propose incremental changes in reporting to improve surveillance of work-related injuries in this rapidly developing country.
Methods Using nationally published data and the results of our own active surveillance research project in the Xuan Tien commune we propose and evaluate improvements to the current system for tracking work-related injuries. We evaluate both passive and active approaches for capture sensitivity and the potential for collecting information on industries, occupations and populations at risk, injury types, causes, severity and burden.
Results Currently the Ministry of Health in Vietnam collects and publishes statistics on non-fatal injuries using hospital admission reports. A passive surveillance model which builds on the current system, but adds case reports for individuals treated at the commune health stations (CHS) and includes data from a newly designed additional injury log, would improve the capture of injuries and allow identification of occupations and populations at risk. However, with passive reporting the completion rate, accuracy and validity of the information collected are likely to be compromised. An active surveillance model, structurally similar to the passive approach, but gathering timely reports of injuries and including follow-up of injured individuals, would provide greater sensitivity of capture and case detail, while requiring significant resources. Active reporting in the Xuan Tien commune found counts of work-related injuries approximately 24 times higher than reported previously.
Conclusions We recommend that an extended passive surveillance approach be adopted in Vietnam to include hospital and community health station reporting. As health authorities become aware of counts or rates in specific communities which contribute disproportionately to the national burden, active surveillance in those communities might become a valuable extension to national surveillance.
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