Reducing Agricultural Injuries in China Focus of Colorado State Epidemiologist

In China, a booming industrial economy draws young workers from farm fields to cities in hopes of better wages. Left behind are the young and elderly who grow and harvest crops to feed the nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

Despite the importance of agricultural production in China, little has been done to mitigate agricultural injuries among the estimated 800 million farmers there. Injury control and prevention is not widely taught in China’s universities, and curriculum on agricultural injuries is even rarer.

Lorann Stallones, professor of epidemiology and part of the Colorado Injury Control Research Center at Colorado State University, is actively addressing the issues. She recently returned from a five-day trip to Wuhan, China, where she served as part of the USA-China Agricultural Injury Research Training Project. The group trained 32 Chinese scholars on issues critical to reducing traumatic agricultural injuries sustained while working with machinery or animals.

"It is difficult to determine the scope of agricultural injuries there because so little research has been done," Stallones said. "You really don’t know. You don’t have a number to start with."

Stallones, who was joined by Celia Walker, former director of Regulatory Compliance at Colorado State, partnered with Huiyun Xiang from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Their work is funded through a grant from the Fogarty International Center. The group will return to a different Chinese city each year for the next four years.

The long-term goal of the project is to develop the expertise of Chinese scholars to address agricultural injury prevention and to develop more active research collaboration between Chinese and U.S. scholars on the issues.

The five-day training session in China is just the beginning. The next phase will bring Chinese scholars to the U.S. – either to CSU or the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital – for a six-month intensive training program. The third part of the program will provide grants to the Chinese scholars to fund research efforts into agricultural injury prevention.

"The training project will substantially enhance the expertise of scientists and public health professionals in China in agricultural injury-related research," Stallones said. "It will also help to create a communication network for injury researchers in China to interact with injury prevention specialists around the world."