Delivering lifesaving skills to Palestine’s medics

This summer, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) celebrated the high number of Palestinian doctors, nurses and paramedics trained to save the lives of patients with major trauma injuries.

In the West Bank, Palestinians face prevalent risks of severe trauma, including violence from Israeli forces and settlers as well as an ongoing risk from unexploded weapons. Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has been on the rise since the beginning of 2017. Between January and April 2018, OCHA documented 84 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian casualties (27 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (57 incidents). On a monthly average, this is the highest level of incidents since the end of 2014 and represents a 50% increase compared with 2017 and 162% in contrast to 2016.

Palestinians’ lives are also threatened by industrial and domestic incidents, especially related to fuel use, as well as cases of violent crime, all of which require emergency responses. 

Palestinian emergency services operate under huge pressure, with insufficient human resources, and a lack of medication and life-saving equipment. The demand on medical services frequently increases with the flare up in Israeli violence against Palestinians, where Emergency Departments become overwhelmed with the influx of injuries and traumas

While the risk of trauma is high, the evidence for how to effectively manage it is undisputed- namely good management in the first hours. According to Mr John Beavis, an Orthopaedic Consultant Surgeon and Trustee of Primary Trauma Care Foundation (PTCF), “many deaths from injury are actually avoidable if professionals are trained in primary trauma care (PTC) and can intervene at an early stage”. Having the knowledge and skills to stabilise a patient’s airways, breathing, circulation and spinal cord is key to reducing the risk of death, complications and long-term impairment.

Since 2011, MAP, in partnership with PTCF, has helped to support and strengthen Ministry of Health (MoH) hospitals in the West Bank to better respond to crises and trauma patients. MAP supported the training of local trainers to be able to deliver PTC training within the MoH continuous education system to doctors, nurses, and midwives. In 2014, the MoH took over the delivery of PTC training, which has now become a compulsory course for doctors, nurses and midwives working in hospitals. Over the last two years, MAP has continued to support the delivery of PTC training, providing three training centres with equipment and links to PTCF.

Over the past four years, more than 3,700 Palestinian health workers have been trained on PTC. Training workshops take place weekly in the north, center, and south of the West Bank and are available to nurses, doctors, medical students, interns, public and private institutions.

MAP recently caught up with Palestinian health workers to find out about the impact the PTC training has had on their work:

“The PTC training helps me to order my priorities for emergency cases and situations. As new graduate I face challenges when dealing with cases. The discussions we go through, the primary survey, learning what to do and when to refer has made me more prepared in my work, and also outside hospital.” Basel, health worker at the Ramallah Medical Complex of Hospitals

“I like the instructor’s methods of delivery and the environment of the training. It is great that there equipment and materials for practicing. This training has helped me to refresh my knowledge and reorganise my priorities in helping patients in emergency situations.” Maram, intern nurse at the Ramallah Medical Complex of Hospitals

MAP also spoke to Dr. Nizar Tarwa, one of the main instructors of PTC in the West Bank, who reflected “The PTC training programme is one of the biggest in the Ministry of Health. We use the practical methods in the workshops to ensure the participants are able to learn and engage in discussions to help them to be more confident in their practice.”

If you would like to support the work of MAP improving primary trauma care in Palestine, please donate today!

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