Accra , May 17, GNA – Apart from the potential life threatening, prolonged physical and psychological complications associated with severe burns, it receives little publicity and attention after initial public outcry and sympathy for victims.

“Extensive injuries are very expensive to treat both at individual, corporate and national levels. It requires first aid, appropriate assessment  and resuscitation in hospitals, administration of costly and labour intensive  dressings, continuous surgical and nursing care, however unlike HIV and AIDS and malaria, burns and associated complications receive little publicity and  attention.”
Dr Opoku Ware Ampomah,  Director of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre (RPSBC), Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH RPSBC), was addressing journalists to mark the beginning of the centre’s 15th anniversary celebration.

It is on the theme, “Saving Lives through Effective Burns and trauma Management”

He said an outreach programme will begin from June 4 to 11, this year, with the ultimate goal of establishing a reconstructive centre in the northern Ghana adding that the centre would kick-start regular clinical visits to the northern sector of the country where reconstructive plastic surgery services are not available.

Presently, patients have to travel all the way to Korle-Bu in Accra or the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, the only two places in the country where such surgical services could be obtained.

According to him, the programme would, in the short term, enhance access to services and build local capacity.

“We plan to provide the surgical services free of charge during the outreach and as such we are calling on individuals and organisations to contribute meaningfully towards the programme to enable us to treat as many people as possible,” he said.

The initiative which would help train medical students, doctors and health personnel to provide surgical services for patients at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, forms part of a main surgical outreach programme through which free surgical services will be organised for patients in the hospital as part of activities to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the RPSBC.

Other activities include a pre-launch thanksgiving service at the Christ Temple of the International Central Gospel Church, health walk, public lectures on burns and a Fund raising Banquet at the statehouse.

He, therefore, called on stakeholders in the various sectors who work at centres where burns could regularly occur, to educate their members of staff and the public on the prevention of burns.

He said research indicated that at least 75 per cent of burn injuries could be prevented from the victim’s own actions.

Dr Ampomah noted that the problem of burns management and prevention was further compounded by poor education and preventive strategies at the community, corporate and national levels adding that it cost about GHc 7000-7500 to treat severe burns, the most devastating injury that a person could sustain and survive.

Last year, the centre recorded 7,443 outpatient visits and 785 admissions out of which 1,184 surgical operations and 1,024 physiotherapy interventions were made, despite the challenges facing the centre.

Deficient burn-care facilities, poor referral system for burn patients, high cost of treatment, inadequate physiotherapy, poor psychological rehabilitation and occupational therapy services, he said, worsened the outlook dramatically for the injured patients.

He was of the view that the emergence of Ghana as an oil-producing country would make an already complicated situation more complex, hence the need to urgently construct an Internal Care Unit (ICU) for the RPSBC and a world-class burns centre which would serve the entire West African sub-region, since there was none in the whole of West Africa.

Under the leadership of Dr Martyn Webster, a Scottish charity, Resurge Africa,  funds were being raised abroad to establish the proposed new burns centre but Dr Ampomah noted that it was the responsibility of Ghanaians, its intended beneficiaries, to also strive to raise funds locally to establish the centre.

Jack Musrtade, a retired Plastic Surgeon who first visited Ghana in 1992 with the Rotary International, is an advisor to the group of visiting plastic surgeons and the brain behind  the centre.

With support from former President Rawlings, government, individuals and corporate sponsors, the centre was commissioned in May 1997.

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