In the past two months, 22 patients suffered from spine injuries due to gunshot wounds, normally due to gang violence resulting in an influx of patients at state hospitals, this according Western Cape Health Department. This after Groote Schuur Hospital’s Acute Spinal Cord Injury Unit (ASCI) recorded a 12 per cent increase in spinal cord injuries, the highest injuries relating to gang violence in the Western Cape.
According to a medical doctor working at the ASCI unit, Dr Juliette Stander, 50 per cent of the victims are part of gangs.
“In the past few months, we saw a rapid increase of spinal injuries due to gunshot wounds and 50 per cent of those patients are affiliated with gangs”, she said.
With an increase of patients, Stander stated that this places strain on the hospital as an influx of patients means more people are placed in the already under resourced wards.
“We have a specialised dedicated ward and an ICU especially for spinal injuries, however, with the increase of new patients it places a lot of pressure on the hospital itself,” she stated.
Stander said that the hospital normally sees an increase of patients during the festive period, especially from the Manenberg, Lavender Hill and Bonteheuwel areas and during this period adequate provision is made for patients.
Stander added that although most spinal injuries come from gunshot wounds, many reported cases are related to motor vehicle incidents.
“45 per cent of spinal injury is due to motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk driving and speeding,” Stander emphasised.
Stander said in order to reduce the statistics of spinal injuries and even deaths, government should implement more outreached programmes at schools.