Partnership with MAP to improve burn care in the West Bank (January 2016)

February 08, 2016
Richard Bendell

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In January 2016 a small Interburns team visited the West Bank in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for a joint assessment and training programme, in partnership with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). There is currently only one operational burn unit in the West Bank at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus in the north, with a second due to open soon at Alia Hospital in Hebron with support from MAP, to cover the south of the West Bank. 16 staff from these two units attended an Essential Burn Care training at Alia Hospital and took part in a detailed assessment of their services. Our team later visited Nablus to view the other unit at Rafidia hospital and meet the chief of the burn centre, who is the only plastic surgeon in West Bank.

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The participants included surgeons, nurses, therapists, a paediatrician and a pharmacist, all with different levels of experience in burn care. In Hebron, in the absence of a dedicated burn unit burn patients are currently treated in the emergency department and general surgical wards, where the staff have not received training in burn care. With the new unit set to open soon with support from MAP, this training was crucial in ensuring that all staff in the new unit have received specific training in burns and have a good working knowledge of the essential elements of effective burn treatment. The staff from Rafidia hospital have significant practical experience of treating patients, but they had also received limited burn-specific training.

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The staff from both hospitals were a very dynamic group who took part enthusiastically in the participatory assessments and Essential Burn Care training, which were delivered over 4 days from the 18th to the 21st of January. Although the training contained some lectures, these were combined with a variety of skill stations, small group discussions and case studies to encourage participants to put their knowledge into action through practical application. These included numerous patient case studies, demonstration of the ABCDE survey, making splints, and a mass casualty scenario where participants had to triage a number of patients with different injuries, complete with painted bodysuits!

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The training was very successful with all participants showing a significant improvement in knowledge and confidence in the post-course evaluations. The local team all received copies of the newly revised Essential Burn Care manual, and were very keen to take part in further training. There will be many opportunities for staff from Rafidia and Nablus to take part in other international programmes in 2016 and beyond.

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We believe this programme will be merely the first step in a larger collaboration to improve burn care in West Bank between Interburns and MAP. The four days provided a wealth of information about the two burn services and the wider picture of burns and burn care in the West Bank, information that will be invaluable as Interburns and MAP plan a further collaborative project. Two of the nurses from Alia Hospital will be joining the Advanced Burn Care Nursing course in Dhaka in March, a five day highly practical workshop aimed specifically at nurses, with teaching faculty from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and the UK.

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Interburns would like to thank MAP for funding this programme and in particular their team in the West Bank – Esperanza Shanan. Fleur Vandensande and Najwa Kawarik – for their support in making the training a success. Thanks are also due to the Director of Alia Hospital for his kind hospitality in hosting the programme as well as all the participants who were instrumental in making this a successful and enjoyable course for the whole team.

The Interburns team included Sian Falder, RuthAnn Fanstone, Tom Potokar and Richard Bendell.