IT IS worrying that hospitals fail to adequately treat burn injuries, which have increased in the winter, as beds meant for such injuries with treatment facilities have now been dedicated to COVID-19 patients while most hospitals do not have burn treatment facilities. The 470-bed Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery is the only institute that treats burn patients now and with a surge in burn injuries, the institute is reported to struggle to accommodate and treat patients. The 400-bed burn unit in Dhaka Medical College Hospital and burn units in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, Chattogram Medical College Hospital and Cumilla Medical College Hospital are now fully meant for COVID-19 patients. In such a situation, burn patients, many of whom are from rural areas, are reported to be struggling for an early treatment. About 756 patients were admitted to the burn institute in November while about 175 patients, mostly women and children, seek treatment from the institute daily. Most of the patients seeking treatment are reported to be turned away because of the limited number of beds.
What is also worrying is that most burn patients from outlying areas requiring treatment in the first six hours after sustaining the injury fail to get to the burn institute. As the burn morbidity rate is higher in rural areas and as most district hospitals do not have burn treatment facilities, patients are forced to rush to the burn institute which takes long hours and, as a result, injuries become worse, leaving many with lifelong disabilities and disfigurement. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Bangladesh also had little facilities for burn treatment even though about 3,000 deaths a year are reported to be caused by burn injuries. A University of Texas Health Science Centre study aiming at identifying characteristics of the people who sustained severe burns and have been treated in Dhaka Medical College Hospital, says that most of the burn injuries are accidental and social awareness of burn prevention and fire safety measures are very low in Bangladesh. The incidence of burn injury increases manifold in the winter as people try to stay warm by making fire, burning gas stoves and using hot water. In November, 483 of the 756 patients admitted to the burn institute sustained injuries from hot water.
The government must, therefore, attend to the issue and prepare the hospitals accordingly. As burn incidence has a seasonal surge, hospitals must make additional preparations in the winter for burn treatment. As for now with the health facilities being burdened with a growing number of COVID-19 and cold-related patients, health managers must find ways to accommodate and treat burn patients. A quality treatment in district hospitals will certainly unburden the burn institute and help patients in outlying areas.
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