Paediatric Burn Care in Kabul, Afghanistan (November 2016)

November 23, 2016
Richard Bendell


In October a mixed team from Interburns and Universitats Kinderspital Zurich (University Children’s Hospital, Zurich) visited Kabul to work with our local partners based at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (IGICH). IGICH has the main paediatric burns unit for Afghanistan and treats around 1,000 inpatients a year from all over the country. The service has 40 beds for burns and a small but dedicated team. The collaboration between these Afghan, Swiss and British partners is funded by the Swiss Committee for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


Dr Tom Potokar (plastic surgeon) and Renate Pfann (occupational therapist) met with Dr Habib-ur-Rahman Qasim, the paediatric burn surgeon who heads up the unit, and his team of nurses and 2 surgical colleagues to undertake an initial assessment of the service in collaboration with the local staff. This was carried out through a participatory method using a focus group discussion with various staff to identify areas of need that can be targeted through training and capacity-building. Many of the staff have currently received no specific training in burns, only ‘on the job’ experience, which makes an Essential Burn Care training in the core principles of burn care a high priority.


Although this project is only just beginning, there is a strong foundation for the future of this partnership due to the dedicated team at IGICH. Future programmes are being planned in Kabul for 2017, as well as the involvement of staff from the unit in other programmes such as a consensus meeting to develop standard policies and outcome measures in early 2017 and fellowship opportunities at the Interburns Training Centres in Kirtipur and Indore (in Nepal and India respectively). Interburns very much looks forward to working with Dr Habib and his team and our partners in Switzerland to build the capacity of this key burn service for child patients in Afghanistan.