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Treatment delays cause problems, doctors say
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR – Muhammad Tahir was just looking to get some stock for his shop when he boarded the bus to Dera Ismail Khan September 8. He never realized how much that bus ride would change his life.
“A roadside bomb planted by militants hit the bus in which I was travelling,” said Tahir, a 27-year-old vegetable grocer. “Then I was taken to the local hospital where I was sent home after bandaging my leg.”
Now, his right leg must be amputated. “He will now require an artificial limb on which he would be dependent for the rest of his life,” Dr. Zafar Iqbal at the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), said. Had he arrived sooner, he would have recovered by now, Zafar said. “Now amputation of his leg is the only option, otherwise the infection would spill to his whole body.”
Dr. Sajid Shaheen, Director-general of Health in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, says Rs. 500m has been allocated to treat the 1,123 victims of militancy this year.
Some patients fail to undergo treatment
About 10% of those patients weren’t willing to undergo complete treatment and they developed complications.
“One 9-year-old, Adnan Ali, received injuries on his abdomen. Adnan was playing outside his house when an explosive material went off,” Dr. Ghulam Nabi, of the Hayatabad Medical Complex, said. Adnan was taken to the local hospital and was discharged the next day. “Now his wounds have become gangrenous. He has a 10% chance of survival.”
“In 2009, 2,697 civilians were treated in the province, and this year a total of 2,227 have been provided free treatment who received injuries at the hands of militants in KP,” Dr. Jawad at the health secretariat said. These included 300 women and 187 children, he said. A special disaster management centre has been established for the war injured at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
At Khyber Teaching Hospital, Darwaish Khan is recovering from injuries sustained in Dara Adamkhel after he stepped on a landmine planted by militants.
“I stayed at home with the hope that my injuries would heal soon and I would be able to continue farming, but it was not so because now doctors have advised my amputation of my left leg,” said Darwaish, 38.
Plastic surgeons said about 50% of the war victims needed reconstructive surgeries to remove deformities and wounds scars.
“The majority of the war victims visit the hospitals for reconstructive surgeries very late due to which they develop deformities and contracture. Females are the worst sufferers as they face trauma and taboos due to permanent scars left on their faces after the wounds”, Prof. Obaidullah, a senior plastic surgeon said.
Dr. Fawad Khan, health director of FATA, said a combination of medical facilities destroyed by militants, poverty and a lack of education among FATA residents are why people are not getting the treatment they need right away, resulting in amputations and deformities.
Poverty hampers treatment
“Poverty is ... one of the reasons hampering their treatment,” Fawad said. “Our doctors have been urging the people to first visit their local health facilities for injuries from where they would be referred to proper hospitals for specialised treatment through proper channels.”
One woman lost seven children. “The face of her only surviving child has been completely deformed and now we would operate on him 8-10 times,” he said. Her child’s face could have been corrected in two operations had she brought him in earlier, he said.
Another woman who is being treated at the KTH for bullet injuries is destined to developed contracture in the neck.
“She would not be able to move her neck. She was treated for bullet injuries in Swat last year but due to negligence she was sent home,” Dr. Jaweria said of Reshmeena Bibi of Matta Swat. She will need a few operations to repair her stiff neck, but still the chances are dim.
“Time is very crucial. Late arrival of the wounded people can cause them permanent disability besides leaving behind scars and contractures which are very embarrassing,” she said.
Dr. Khan said Rs. 376m had been spent on treating war wounded civilians in public hospitals.
“This year, about 986 persons, including 133 woman and 112 children have been operated upon free of cost in FATA,” he said.
“My son, Javid Shah, 5, touched a hidden landmine in Parachinar and got his right foot severely injured. His foot was bandaged”, said Jabeena Bibi, a resident of Kurram Agency. Bibi said that she shifted her son to Peshawar when his foot started to smell. Now doctors have suggested amputation.
“The child will then need artificial limb and wheel chair,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Rahim said. “Hundreds of people are developing disabilities because they don’t contact right doctors at the right time.”
Physiotherapist Dr Mehboob Ur Rehman said the war victims should be referred to physiotherapists after operating on them to save them from complications in future.