Serious burns can not only cause excruciating pain to those affected, they can also cause life-long disability or even death if not treated quickly and adequately. In the context of the West Bank, burns are a prevalent health risk for Palestinians (whether caused by household fires, industrial accidents or even arson attacks by settlers), and rapid access to treatment is challenged by the imposition of checkpoints and movement restrictions across the territory.
Recognising the need for quality, locally-accessible treatment for burns injuries in the West Bank, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has helped to establish and equip dedicated burns units at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus in the north (established in 2009), and Alia Hospital in Hebron in the south (which opened in 2017). We have established safe play rooms for children receiving care at these units and helped to develop standardised care protocols to support the standardisation of burns care in the West Bank. We have also focused on providing training opportunities to ensure that these units are staffed by multidisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists able to provide the best possible care to their patients.
As part of this work with our partner Interburns, MAP recently supported Palestinian surgeons Dr. Sulaiman Fakhouri from Alia Hospital, and Dr. Ahmad Sokkar from Rafidia Hospital, to undertake four months of intensive training in India and Nepal to deepen their knowledge and skills in burns treatment and reconstructive surgery.
The pair spent three months at the Burns Unit at Choithram Hospital and Research Centre in India, and one month at the Kirtipur Hospital in Nepal. During the fellowship they covered a broad range of topics and skills to provide modern, holistic care to patients with serious burns, including proper ward management, how to assess and prepare a patient before surgery, and how to provide quality post-operative care including, pain management and counselling for patients. They worked in multidisciplinary teams alongside dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
Dr Sokkar described to MAP some of the other training they undertook: During our fellowship in the burns unit and reconstructive surgery in the Choithram Hospital and Research Centre, we learned about the establishment of a skin bank, from A to Z and had discussions about how we could run a skin bank in Palestine, because this is one of the most important steps to treat patients with major burns.
They have both focused on learning the basics of managing acute burns, said Dr Shobha, Chief of the Choithram Hospital Burns Unit, reporting that that the pair had satisfactorily completed the fellowship. They got hands-on training on ward management, dressings, counselling, pre-operative assessment and preparation.
Back in June, the two fellows also participated in a two-day Continuing Medical Education course on burns in Chennai, India, covering topics including the history of burns treatment, criteria for the admission for burns patients, emergency procedures in burns management, evaluating burns wounds and clinical decision-making, and diagnosis and treatment of inhalation injury.
MAP is delighted that the two surgeons have completed the fellowship and congratulates Drs Sokkar and Fakhouri for their hard work. Now they have returned from Nepal and India, the pair will be sharing the knowledge and skills they gained with their colleagues through a structured schedule of teaching and exchange.
Source: Medical Aid for Palestinians