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