75% of burns cases preventable, says Medical Director
By Bernice Bessey & Fatima Adam
The Medical Director of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Centre, Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah, has attributed the problems of burn management and prevention to lack of appropriate education and legislation to restrict burns cases in the country.
According to him, research has showed that at least 75 per cent of burns cases are preventable injuries and result from the victim’s own actions, but added that the incidence of burns cases continues to be on the rise, citing January 2011 to the first quarter of this year, when over 850 burns cases were reported to the hospital, with 328 admitted and 90 deaths.
The Medical Director was speaking at the launch of the 15th Anniversary of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre under the theme “Saving Lives through Effective Burns and Trauma Management” on Wednesday in Accra.
He warned the country to be careful of burns, since Ghana had emerged as an oil-producing country where there are severe burns situations, which he said, had already complicated the situation saying, “With the transportation of oil and petroleum products across the country, a consequence of this financial gift to Ghanaians will be the public’s exposure to risk, and this is likely to grow significantly.”
Being the only facility in Ghana, and for that matter the West Africa sub-region, it receives more patients than it can accommodate, creating sudden congestion. For instance, in 2011, there were 7,443 outpatient visits and 785 admissions, with 1,184 surgical operations and 1,024 physiotherapy interventions.
Meanwhile, the cCentre deals with conditions such as burns, injuries to the face, limbs, nerves, tendons, blood vessels, skin cancers, contractures, lymphoedema, birth anomalies like cleft lip and palate, hand deformities, and cosmetic problems.
Dr. Ampomah complained of a manpower deficit of plastic surgeons, Aanesthetist, nurses specialised in burns, critical care and tissue viability, physiotherapists, and support staff.
He added that the current National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) tariffs were inadequate to cover the cost of treatment, especially, burns patients. “We are often in a dilemma about how to sort out paupers and uninsured patients.”
He appealed for accommodation and incentive packages for the staff to boost their moral.
The 69-bed capacity Centre was commissioned in May 1997 and started with Surgeons from the United Kingdom and Scotland, and could now boast of a Ghanaian Faculty, not only rendering service, but producing future plastic surgeons for the country and the sub-region as a whole.
As part of the celebrations, the Centre, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, would be doing a surgical outreach at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern Region, a health walk and public lectures.
The Minister of Health, Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, commended the Centre and staff for the good work in bringing hope to the hopeless, describing the Centre as a valuable national asset which should be supported by all.
He said that as the country was growing, there was the need to educate the people on the way to be safe from accidents. “Health must be seen as the number one priority of the country,” he advised.
Mr. Bagbin indicated that the government was planning on favorable working conditions for health personnel, in order to prevent them from traveling outside the country for greener pastures.
Aside that, he said the government was also committed to developing satellite hospitals to take the load of the nation’s number Teaching Hospital.
In addition to 161 ambulances already distributed in the system, 200 more would be acquired next year for distribution to the metropolitan/municipal and districts capitals of the 10 regions.
The Minister pledged GH¢100,000 for the reconstruction of its new Intensive Care Unit.
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