Training physios to improve care for Palestinian burns patients

Burns injuries are a prevalent health risk for Palestinians in the West Bank. Whether caused by industrial accidents, house fires or even arson attacks by settlers, they can cause extreme pain and have serious lifelong effects.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has long recognised these risks and helped to establish the first dedicated Burns Units in Palestine in 2009 at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, in the north of the West Bank.  For nearly 10 years, this centre has been providing high-quality care to burns patients – including emergency treatment and surgery, inpatient care, pain management and physiotherapy.

But for burns patients from elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, living amid a network of checkpoints and roadblocks, it could often take many hours to reach the Burns Unit in the north. Every delay increases the chance of infection, sepsis and other fatal complications, putting the lives and wellbeing of many burns patients at risk.

In response to the clear need for greater localised burns treatment, last summer MAP partnered with the Welfare Association and the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) to open a new Burns Unit in Alia Hospital in the city of Hebron. This new unit makes it much easier for patients in the southern West Bank to access timely, high-quality care with fewer health-endangering delays. The Unit serves a population of about 850,000 Palestinians

MAP’s Burns Care Programme in Palestine – a long-term project supporting capacity in the Palestinian Ministry of Health – includes training exchange between hospitals in the West Bank, as well as visits from an international, multidisciplinary burns treatment team from UK-based organization Interburns. MAP also helps procure essential medicines, disposables and equipment for both Units in Alia and Rafidia Hospitals.

Burns care training for Palestinian physiotherapists

The recovery from severe burns injuries can take a long time, and the outcomes for patients depend on both their initial treatment and quality of their long-term care. Vital in this process is access to physiotherapy services, which can help promote recovery for patients in intensive care, and are essential to ensuring patients regain movement, strength and functioning. Physiotherapists help ensure joints are in an optimum position during recovery, help manage potentially painful scars, and support patients to restore lost mobility.

Recently, two physiotherapists working from Alia Hospital, Amin Fakih and Farouk Abu Zneid, took part in a MAP-supported training to develop their skills and knowledge for burns patients.

The training ran for three weeks at the Burns Unit at Rafidia Hospital, Nablus, and was supervised by the Head of the unit Anas Abu Safa, a surgeon and a member of the Steering Committee for Burns Care and Teaching Faculty with our partner Interburns. The physios also received training from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Throughout the three weeks, Amin and Farouk learnt about scar management, splinting, treating facial burns, how to discuss patients’ cases and work in a multidisciplinary team. This experience will help to improve the quality of care received by burn victims of all ages in the south of the West Bank.

 “I am now more aware of my role as a physiotherapist working in burns care,” Farouk told MAP after the course. “This training helped me to do splinting for patients better than I used to do in the past. It was very important to me to be trained in a practical way, with a focus on cases.”

Amin also told MAP that the experience had been beneficial: “The treatment for patients in the Burns Unit of Alia Hospital will be better because I developed my practice and improved my skills in the delivery of services,” he said. “Going forward, I think we need some specific tools and materials that will help us to care for patients even more effectively.”

If you would like to support MAP’s work improving care for Palestinian burns patients, please donate today!

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