Improving 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, in partnership with the International Medical Education Trust 2000, to establish the first dedicated Burns Units in Palestine in 2009 at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, in the north of the West Bank.  For almost a decade, 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.

That is why, working in partnership with the Welfare Association and the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), MAP has also helped to establish a new Burns Unit in Alia Hospital in the city of Hebron, which opened last summer. 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.

Burns care training for Palestinian surgeons and nurses

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. The roles played by surgeons and nurses in this process is vital, helping to minimise the pain, scarring and long term impact of the injury.  

Specialist burns care training, including visits by international, muliti-disciplinary teams, is a key part of MAP’s programme to improve the quality of care received by burns patients.

This summer, working in partnership with Interburns, a global network of burns care professionals, MAP supported a three-day training at Rafidia Hospital for ten surgeons and nurses working at the two West Bank Burns Units.

The training included a wound management workshop, developing the health workers ability to categorise burns injuries according to the depth of tissue damage. They also discussed burn wound pathophysiology (the management required by different types of burns injuries), wound healing processes and how to prevent and control infections. The workshop included a practical element, with the medics practicing to apply various dressings.

The health workers were also trained on scar management, including how to assess scars and what rehabilitation measures are required.

Throughout the training, the medics discussed how they were going to implement and apply the new skills and techniques to improve burns care services at their hospitals. 

The participants were enthusiastic about the course, reflecting that programme provided an important foundation in burns care and they looked forward to building this knowledge at further, advanced trainings. “The training was very informative especially that new topics were addressed during the training,” said Hiba Sharawi, a nurse from Alia Hospital.

MAP and Interburns would like to thank the MoH, in particular Dr. Anas Abu Safa and Dr. Walid Zalloum, for their help in facilitating the training. MAP would also like to thank the Interburns team: Tom Potokar, Renate Pfann, and Ioannis Goutos - for their time and energy, helping to develop burn care in Palestine.

If you would like to support MAP’s burns care work in Palestine, please donate today.

Donate