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Philippines: Improving medical response to bomb blasts

23-06-2006 News Release 06/45

The first-ever burn-management seminar to be held in the southern Philippines is opening today at the Zamboanga City Medical Centre.

The two-day training course was organized at the ICRC's initiative to enhance the medical response to indiscriminate acts of violence causing severe burns and to improve coordination between health professionals, said ICRC doctor Jean-Pierre Revel in his opening remarks.

The idea of holding the seminar was conceived following recent bombing incidents involving improvised explosive devices on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, especially in Sulu and Digos. Several people were killed in the blasts and others suffered burns covering between 40 and 60 per cent of their bodies, a percentage that not long ago would also have resulted in certain death. Only today a bomb blast killed at least five civilians and injured others in Shariff Aguad, also in Mindanao.

" Our ability to save lives depends on the availability of emergency air transport, quick care in the first few days and good coordination with the Mindanao Burn Center in Davao City, " said Dr Revel. The center, which has taken a special interest in this seminar, is now the only referral burn unit for the 18 million people living on the island.

The seminar will deal with specific aspects of clinical care and public health and review the procedures for responding to mass casualties involving large numbers of burn victims. Twenty-eight doctors, nurses, other specialists and public-health professionals attached to six different civilian and military medical facilities and Red Cross chapters in Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu are attending.

" We need to improve the manner in which we respond to burns in the first 48 hours, " said Dr Michelle Marie Aportade ra, of the Mindanao Burn Center. " Everything done in those first two days will strongly impact the patients'overall chances of survival. We are grateful for this initiative because we want to harmonize the work of front-line doctors. Only in this way can we hope to improve the care we give to burn victims. "  

Since it set up its delegation in the Philippines in 1982, the ICRC has been working to protect and assist those affected by armed conflicts, internal disturbances and other situations of internal violence. To this end, it cooperates extensively with the relevant authorities and government departments, with other humanitarian organizations and with the Philippine National Red Cross and its network of chapters throughout the archipelago.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Michael Rudiak, ICRC Manila, tel. + 632 892 8901 or + 639 189 072 125 (mobile)  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 79 217 32 16 (mobile)