A nation traumatised by ‘neglected killer’
By Apsara Kapukotuwa
Trauma is one of the major causes for disability and yet it is known as "the neglected killer" and "neglected step child of modern medicine", a top surgeon said.

Delivering the E.M. Wijerama Endowment lecture of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, on Friday, Dr. Gamini Goonetilleke, Consultant Surgeon, Sri Jayewardenepura University highlighted this point when he spoke on "Improving management and prevention of trauma in Sri Lanka."

He said while in the USA trauma was the leading cause of death, in Sri Lanka, it was the leading cause for hospital admissions. He said one of the main difficulties in improving the treatment of trauma incidences was the lack of a proper database which included incomplete figures from sources like the Annual Health Bulletin, Police Department, Department of Census and Statistics and the Epidemiology Unit.

The main causes of trauma in Sri Lanka were road traffic accidents, occupational hazards, burns, the war, home accidents and assaults/stabs.

In a shocking revelation, Dr. Goonetilleke said the number of deaths due to road accidents had exceeded the number who had died due to the war, with six people dying on the roads everyday and 135 accidents daily.

Dr. Goonetilleke said the SLMA should be in the forefront of battling the rising incidents of trauma. Pointing out that the government has to spend 1-2% of the GDP on treating trauma victims each year Dr. Goonetilleke said assailants should be made to pay the costs of hospitalisation and rehabilitation of their victims. This would not only reduce the financial burden on the state but also act as a deterrent he said.

Referring to war injuries Dr. Goonetilleke highlighted the danger and impact of mine injuries where 85% of the victims were civilians, who were attempting to resettle in war-torn areas.

He also said their access to medical care was a mere 10%. However on a more positive note he said statistics revealed that the number of land mine victims had reduced with 1999 recording 729 victims and this year 33. Stressing the urgent need for more attention to be given to trauma and its prevention, Dr. Goonetilleke called for the recognition of trauma as a disease, and the introduction of a trauma control programme, and adequate legislation.

Meanwhile for the second consecutive year the SLMA presented awards to journalists for excellence on health reporting. Sajeewan Wijeyawardene of the Daily Mirror received an award for his article "Deadly Drugs Flooding the Market". Other winners included Dasun Udara Edirisinghe of Vidusara and Marlon Marrikkar of Thinakkural.

Top  Back to News  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.