The body count: using routine mortality surveillance data to drive violence prevention

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Degree of doctor of philosophy
Title The body count: using routine mortality surveillance data to drive violence prevention
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
The nature of public health research and resource intensive projects such as injury
surveillance typically involves many partner organisations and individuals. This
implies intensely collaborative work and I am grateful to numerous colleagues that
have guided and shaped the surveillance system and the data it has generated. My
involvement arose from the pioneering work of Dr Len Lerer, a forensic pathologist
based at the University of Cape Town and attached to the state mortuary in Salt River,
who first recognised the potential of data from the post-mortem investigative process
to inform injury prevention in South Africa. Len supervised my research project in the
final year of my business science degree and oversaw the publication of the first citylevel
report for Cape Town in 1994. I am particularly indebted to Len for mentoring
me and first sparking my interest in public health. Several other colleagues were
central to this work. Dr Rozett Phillips of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC)
Health Consulting Office collected and collated the data for the first city-level report
and co-wrote the second report for 1995. David Bourne kindled Len and my interest
in railway injuries and fatalities and also linkages with all cause surveillance along
with Dr Debbie Bradshaw of the MRC. Debbie beneficiated the data for use in her
burden of disease work, and who would later become a most reliable and supportive
manager as Director of the MRC’s Burden of Disease Research Unit during the
completion of my thesis.

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