Accra, May 30, GNA - Dr Opoku Ware Ampomah, Director of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, has called for appropriate public education and policy interventions to curtail the incidence of burns, which was on the increase in the country.
“From January 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, more than 850 burns have been recorded at Korle-Bu alone with 328 of them requiring admissions and 90 deaths. This is a grim statistics which should be the concern of all”.
Dr Ampomah made the call at the launching of the Centre’s 15th anniversary celebrations in Accra on Wednesday.
He said research had indicated that at least 75 per cent of burns were preventable and result of the victim’s own actions, adding that, "Injuries from burns are the most devastating that a person can sustain and survive”.
The theme for the celebration is “Saving lives Through Effective Burns and Trauma Management”.
Some activities planned for the celebration include surgical outreach programme at Tamale Teaching Hospital from June 4-10, public lecture and fund-raising to generate funds towards the establishment of an intensive care unit for the Centre.
The 69-bed capacity Centre, which was inaugurated in May 1997, is a wholly Ghanaian facility and renders services in reconstructive plastic surgery as well as train future plastic surgeons for Ghana and the West African Sub-Region.
Being the only facility, it receives patients from Ghana and other West African Countries and recorded 7,443 outpatient visits and 785 admissions last year. In addition, it performed 1,184 surgical operations and 1,024 physiotherapy interventions.
The specialty of plastic surgery is a branch of surgery committed to the restoration of form and function of any body part while plastic surgeons routinely deal with burns, injuries to face, limbs, nerves, tendons, blood vessels, skin cancers, birth anomalies, lymphoedema, and cosmetic problems.
Dr Ampomah said the problem of burn management and prevention was compounded by poor education and preventive strategies at the community, corporate and national level, which was also compounded by lack of appropriate legislation or its enforcement to correct these anomalies.
He said the emergence of Ghana as an oil–producing country was going to make an already complicated situation more complex with the transportation of oil and petroleum products across the country, a consequence of the financial gift to Ghanaians would be the public’s exposure to risk.
Dr Ampomah noted that despite efforts by staff of the Centre to restore hopeless situations of patients to a normal state as possible, it still faced several challenges like manpower deficit of plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses specialised in burns, critical care and tissue viability, psychologist and support staff, as well as scholarship and sponsorship scheme to develop the various genre of staff.
He indicated that health care financing for some patients, especially paupers was a problem since current NHIS tariffs were inadequate to cover cost of treatment especially for burns.
Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Minister of Health commended the Centre and staff for the good work in bringing hope to the hopeless, describing the Centre as a valuable national asset which should be supported by all.
He supported the need to intensify education on the prevention of sicknesses and accidental deaths as government tried to develop health infrastructure.
Mr Bagbin said health financing was critical; therefore there was the need to invest in the sector, to help save lives of the people.
He announced that government was developing satellite hospitals to take the load of patients to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
In addition to 161 ambulances already distributed in the system, 200 more would be acquired next year for distribution to the Regions and the Burns Centre.
The Sector Minister pledged GHC100,000 to the Centre to help reconstruct its new Intensive Care Unit.