PESHAWAR: Pakistan Association of Plastic Surgeons will launch provincial burns prevention programme to put brakes on incidents of burns through public awareness, ensure rehabilitation of victims and help in legislation to protect buildings from fire.

Prof Tahmeedullah, the president of Pakistan Association of Plastic Surgeons (PAPS), said that burn incidents had record 15 per cent increase as compared to last year but the silver lining was that 90 per cent of cases were preventable provided public awareness was scaled up and legal measures were put in place to reduce such incidents.

He said that an estimated 1.5 million people suffered burn injuries countrywide annually with 10 per cent of them happened to be life-threatening requiring hospitalisation.

Prof Tahmeedullah, who is also director of the 120-bed Burns and Plastic Surgery Centre, Peshawar, said that the programme was aimed at legislation making installation of smoke-detectors, fire extinguishers, safe electrical wiring and gas fitting in building mandatory to cut down risk of deaths from fire by 61 per cent.

Raising awareness to reduce burn incidents also part of initiative

He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Burns and Accidents Prevention Authority would be established to ensure architectural design of buildings with fire exit plan, safety of homes, educational institutes and road safety.

“Legislation will also cover prevention of industrial burns, safety of Wapda employees along with training sessions to protect the workers, safe handling of toxic and explosive chemicals with availability of personal protective equipment, like industrial gloves and masks etc,” said Prof Tahmeedullah.

He said that about 15 to 20 per cent victims got crippled and underwent multiple surgeries and prolonged rehabilitation. “Of these, 70 per cent are in most productive age group of 15 to 40 years while 80 per cent belong to poor socioeconomic strata, mainly due to illiteracy, poverty and low level safety consciousness,” he added.

The director said that non-existence of burn care services at primary and secondary healthcare levels further complicated the situation. “As per plan, we want to set up a central registry to ascertain data, assess burn-related fatalities, injuries and disabilities to identify high-risk areas and populations and then initiate steps,” he added.

Prof Tahmeedullah said that they would enlist support of plastic surgeons, experts in physical medicines and rehabilitation, health education and health promotion to guide, oversee, supervise and evaluate the programme. “We need more trained surgeons and nurses to improve the quality of treatment,” he added.

He said that prevention was better than cure for which awareness campaigns at the community level, schools and workplaces would be held in addition to utilising television, radio, social media and community gatherings to disseminate information on burn prevention, first aid and safety measures.

“Integrate burn prevention education into the school curriculum from primary to secondary levels. Encourage schools to organise awareness events and competitions on burn prevention,” he said

The PAPS chief said that imparting specialised training to healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and paramedics on burn management and prevention were included in the programme. “Establishment of burn care training programmes in collaboration with medical institutions and international organisations is also part of the strategy,” he added.

He said that the comprehensive programme also included steps to improve infrastructure, upgrade healthcare facilities for better burn care by imparting training to health professionals and procurement of modern equipment.

“Enhancement of emergency response systems to promptly transport burn victims to specialised facilities, enforcement of regulations related to fire safety at public places, industries and residential buildings along with penalties for violators are needed,” he said.

Prof Tahmeedullah said that collaboration with postgraduate medical institute and Khyber Medical University for state-of-the-art training to healthcare providers, provision of incentives to businesses and organisations that prioritised fire safety measures and holding workshops, seminars and interactive sessions to raise awareness about burn prevention and safety were necessary to cope with burns.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2024

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