FOR a city of well over 4m people, a provincial capital no less, to not have a burns centre defies logic. That is why Almas Bibi had to be shifted to a hospital in Kharian, Punjab, from Peshawar’s Khyber Teaching Hospital where she had been admitted in a critical condition on June 26. The young woman had allegedly been doused with kerosene and set alight by her in-laws in KP’s Nowshera district. Unfortunately, she breathed her last at the burns centre in Punjab on Thursday, four days after being transferred there. On Tuesday, while Almas Bibi was still struggling for life, the Peshawar High Court with reference to her case, expressed displeasure at the lack of a specialised burns centre in the city and summoned the health secretary in this regard.
Burn injuries can occur in any setting — the result of domestic violence as in the recent instance, in accidents as in Bahawalpur last month or in bomb blasts, of which there have been unfortunately too many in Pakistan. While some state-of-the-art burns centres have been set up, there are still far too few of them. In a province like KP, where medical facilities also have to cater to patients from tribal areas, the lack of a burns centre is a glaring deficiency in its health infrastructure. To reduce the risk of complications, it is vital that burns victims receive adequate treatment that begins immediately after the injury has occurred. As the body’s largest organ, the skin keeps it protected from the various pathogens in the environment. Burn injuries can therefore result in severe, potentially fatal bacterial infection setting in, unless patients are quickly placed in properly equipped isolation wards. An individual suffering from burns may experience serious fluid loss from damage to blood vessels, preventing the heart from pumping enough blood through the body. Severe burns can also result in body heat being lost; this increases the risk of hypothermia. KP must address the issue without delay.