Addressing discrepancies in estimates of road traffic deaths and injuries in Ethiopia

Kazuyuki Neki, Hialy Gutierrez, Sudeshna Mitra, Awoke M. Temesgen, Leah Watetu Mbugua, Ramshankar Balasubramaniyan, Mercer Winer, Jaeda Roberts, Theo Vos, Erin Hamilton, Mohsen Naghavi, James E. Harrison, Soames Job, Kavi Bhalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There are large discrepancies between official statistics of traffic injuries in African countries and estimates from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study and WHO's Global Status Reports on Road Safety (GSRRS). We sought to assess the magnitude of the discrepancy in Ethiopia, its implications and how it can be addressed. 

Methods: We systematically searched for nationally representative epidemiological data sources for road traffic injuries and vehicle ownership in Ethiopia and compared estimates with those from GBD and GSRRS. 

Findings: GBD and GSRRS estimates vary substantially across revisions and across projects. GSRRS-2018 estimates of deaths (27 326 in 2016) are more than three times GBD-2019 estimates (8718), and these estimates have non-overlapping uncertainty ranges. GSRRS estimates align well with the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS-2016; 27 838 deaths, 95th CI: 15 938 to 39 738). Official statistics are much lower (5118 deaths in 2018) than all estimates. GBD-2019 estimates of serious non-fatal injuries are consistent with DHS-2016 estimates (106 050 injuries, 95th CI: 81 728 to 130 372) and older estimates from the 2003 World Health Survey. Data from five surveys confirm that vehicle ownership levels in Ethiopia are much lower than in other countries in the region. 

Interpretation: Inclusion of data from national health surveys in GBD and GSRRS can help reduce discrepancies in estimates of deaths and support their use in highlighting under-reporting in official statistics and advocating for better prioritisation of road safety in the national policy agenda. GBD methods for estimating serious non-fatal injuries should be strengthened to allow monitoring progress towards Sustainable Development Goal target 3.6.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044704
Pages (from-to)234-240
Number of pages7
JournalInjury Prevention
Issue number3
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Epidemiology
  • Low-Middle Income Country
  • Public Health
  • road traffic injuries
  • road traffic deaths
  • Ethiopia
  • Health surveys


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