Training Palestinian health workers in specialist burns care

Burns injuries – from industrial accidents, house fires, and even arson attacks by Israeli settlers – are a prevalent risk to health for Palestinians in the West Bank, and can have serious, life-long consequences. Timely, accessible, and high-quality treatment is vital to saving lives and improving outcomes for burns victims.

Over the past year, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has supported the refurbishment of an area of Alia Hospital in the southern city of Hebron to house a new Burns Unit, and funded training by Interburns for the staff working with burns patients.

Thanks to our supporters, and in partnership with the Welfare Association and the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Hebron’s new Burns Unit received its first patients at the end of July and was officially opened on the 26 August.

At the opening ceremony, MAP caught up with two members of staff working at the unit to find out about their work and the training they have received as part of this project, and how it will help them provide high-quality care for years to come.

Developing skills in skin grafts

Dr Kamal Al Mashni, a General and Burns Surgeon from the Burns Unit, was one of two Palestinian surgeons who undertook fellowships at the Interburns Training Centre in Indore, India, funded by MAP:

"For me the most beneficial and interesting aspect of the training was skin grafts, as this is a very advanced treatment. There were no skin grafts being carried out at Alia hospital before as we lacked the experience, but since my training I have completed a number of successful grafts. This is really satisfying for me".

Speaking about the first skin graft performed at the new unit, Dr Kamal said:

"The patient was admitted to the unit with 33% electrical burns from a workplace accident on a building site. Following the evaluation of his case, I conducted a skin graft on the chest, thigh and left foot. Following the removal of the dressing after five days, it could be seen that the graft had been successful. I was happy to have put my training and the experience gained in India to use here in Hebron.”

Training for 3,000 Palestinian health workers

MAP also spoke to Ahmad*, a nurse working in Alia Hospital’s Burns Unit, who told us about his work:

Ahmad attended the first of the MAP-funded Interburns training in 2014 and later attended the Essential Burns Care Training in January 2016. Through these he learnt vital aspects of burns care, including fluid management, surgery, scar management, pain control, positioning, nutrition and psychosocial care.

Ahmad is still in touch with the trainers from Interburns. He explained: “I really value that I can still contact the Interburns team to get ongoing advice if needed, this is a great support to me. Now that I have seen the difference we can make, I hope to be able to continue specialising in burns treatment and care, and one day to complete a PhD in this subject".

Ahmad also undertook a three-month practical training placement at the MAP-supported Burns Unit at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he benefitted from hands-on training.

"The training was so useful because of the range of different types of burns cases I was able to get experience in treating."

Ahmad has now reached the point where he is able to teach others about burns care as a medical instructor, delivering the Interburns Essential Burns Care Course training every week to other Palestinian nurses. The medical instructors aim to train 3,000 Palestinian healthcare workers in the essentials of burn care. Ahmad described the importance of the training:

"I am glad that many more nurses will now be trained in the Burns Unit. Before it opened, people in our community would not seek treatment. They would instead often just use traditional herbs to heal the burn and treat themselves at home. Now we are able to offer a full service to the community."

"I would like to give my great thanks to MAP's supporters for funding this unit. Its work will prevent the suffering of so many people in the south of the West Bank".

If you would like to help us ensure Palestinians can access quality burns care in the West Bank, please donate today.



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