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Trauma Africa

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 07 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:114
  1. Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology and population health (
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

    BBC 1, Thursdays at 9 pm until 21 July

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    According to Noam Chomsky, whom I understand ranks with Karl Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the 10 most quoted sources in the humanities, the responsibility of intellectuals is to tell the truth and expose lies. Why not judge a television documentary using the same criteria? So how does the three part series Trauma Africa line up?

    As someone who was scared witless by a 1970s documentary on climate change (the ice age cometh) that grimly forecast that an ice age was imminent, only to discover years later that global temperatures are heading in the opposite direction, I am sceptical about documentaries. But no problem this time. Trauma rates in Africa are among the highest in the world. According to the World Health Organization, each year there are more than 200 000 road traffic deaths in Africa and perhaps 20 to 30 times as many people seriously injured. And trauma in Africa is definitely getting hotter, with injury rates predicted to increase by around 80% by 2020. Violence—whether every day thuggery (like the man seen in this documentary …

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