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[Accidents and acts of violence in Brazil: I—Analysis of mortality data]

M H Jorge, V P Gawryszewski, M do R Latorre
Revista de Saúde Pública 1997, 31: 5-25
External causes are an important cause of death in almost all countries. They are always the second or third in the mortality ranking, but their distribution according to type varies from country to country. Mortality due to external causes by type, gender and age, for Brazil as a whole and for state capitals specifically, is analysed. Mortality rates and the proportional mortality from 1977 to 1994 were calculated. The results showed that the number of deaths due to external causes has almost doubled from 1977 to 1994 and nowadays this is the second cause of death in Brazil. The mortality rate, in 1991, was 69.8 per 100,000 inhabitants and the highest increase was in the male rates. The male rates are almost 4.5 times greater than the female ones. The first cause of death among people from 5 to 39 years old is external causes, and the majority occur between 15 and 19 years of age (65% of the deaths by external causes). Besides the growth in itself it also seems that a shift of deaths to hower ages is occurring. Both mortality by traffic accidents and that by homicide have increased over the period from 1977 to 1994. Suicides have been stable and "other external causes" have increased slowly, especially due to falls and drowning. The mortality rates for external causes in state capitals are higher than the average for Brazil as a whole, except for some northeastern capitals. The rates for the capitals in the northern region are the highest in Brazil. In the northeastern region, only Recife, Maceió and Salvador have high rates. In the southeast, Vitória, Rio de Janeiro and S. Paulo have the highest rates in the country but Belo Horizonte's rates are declining. In the southern region all the capitals showed a growth in the rates as also in the capitals of the West-central region. The growth of mortality due to external causes type of external cause is different in these capitals. Suicide is not a public health problem in Brazil nor the state capitals. Traffic accidents are a major problem in Vitória, Goiânia, Macapá, the Distrito Federal and Curitiba. Homicides have increased greatly in Porto Velho, Rio Branco, Recife, S. Luís, Vitória, S. Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiabá and the Distrito Federal. The mortality due to external causes in Brazil has become a major public health problem, especially because of homicides. It is important to emphasize that the quality of the mortality data on external causes is not the same for all capitals, because it is a question very closely related to the quality of legal information.


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