Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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‘An epidemic of violence’

Data compiled by the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) detailing incidents of violence presented at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama from 2013 through 2018, paint a picture of an “epidemic of violence” with those facilities treating more than a combined 11,000 assaults, rapes, stabbings and gunshot wounds in that time.

The information further illustrates the strain the country’s main hospitals have been under to deal with high levels of violence that health officials have been highlighting in recent years.

The data was compiled by fiscal years – which begin in July and end in June.

“We wanted to pay particular attention to the number of wounds, stabbings, assaults, etc. because we were going through, and have been going through in The Bahamas, an epidemic of violence where we’re beating, stabbing, shooting, raping one another at an historic and almost internationally unprecedented rate,” said Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands when interviewed about the report. 

From 2013/2014 to the end of December 2018, there were 7,183 assault victims treated at PMH, the report showed.

From 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, there were 756 assault victims treated at the Rand. 

There was no data for the 2018/2019 fiscal year from the Rand.

From 2013/2014 to the end of December 2018, there were 1,071 gunshot wounds treated at PMH.

From 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, there were 136 gunshot wounds treated at the Rand.

From 2013/2014 to the end of December 2018, there were 1,218 stab wounds treated at PMH.

From 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, there were 235 stab wounds treated at the Rand.

From 2013/2014 to the end of December 2018, there 643 rapes presented at PMH.

From 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, there were 68 rape cases presented at the Rand.

Though the report indicated that there were fewer of these cases presented in each category in 2017/2018 than compared to 2013/2014, when the data is examined year-by-year, it shows that some drops were followed by increases.

However, in the case of gunshot wounds treated at PMH there has been a consistent decline.

The report indicated a 51.6 percent decrease in the number of gunshot wounds treated at PMH with 250 in 2013/2014 in comparison to the 121 in 2017/2018.

There were 243 cases in 2014/2015; 210 in 2015/2016; 181 in 2016/2017; and 66 between July and December 2018.

From 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, there was a 48.3 percent decrease in the number of stabbings treated at PMH, with similar fluctuations, according to the report.

Sands said the decline demonstrates a decrease in the “epidemic of violence” in The Bahamas.

“The fact that we’re now seeing an improvement, we should all be grateful,” Sands said.

“We should applaud every stakeholder that has played a role but we have a very long way to go.”

Though rapes, gunshot wounds and stabbings treated at the Rand were down in 2017/2018 compared to 2016/2017, the numbers fluctuated in theses categories since 2013/2014.

Sands cautioned that in reading the data, hospital numbers may vary from police numbers, which are compiled by calendar year, and are sometimes categorized differently.

“Bear in mind that when a patient presents to a healthcare facility, we are not agents of the law per se,” Sands said.

“While we may play an integral role with the gathering of evidence, our definitions and diagnoses do not correspond hand in hand with what the police may say or what the attorney general may say or the director of public prosecutions may say.”
 

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started The Nassau Guardian in September 2017. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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