Red Cross holds war surgery seminars for Gazan doctors

ICRC doctors to discuss latest techniques for managing weapon-related injuries, with sessions on ballistics, orthopedics and prosthetics.

Gaza wounded 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza wounded 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Two surgeons from the International Committee of the Red Cross - who have 25 years of combined experience in war zones including Iraq, Chad and Kenya - are holding a "war surgery seminar" for Palestinian surgeons in Gaza. The event, sponsored by the ICRC, is being conducted through Thursday in Gaza. Chief ICRC surgeon Dr. Marco Baldan and his colleague, Dr. Harald Veen, addressed over 65 Gaza surgeons and medical personnel from hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip. "All war wounds are contaminated and become easily infected if not rapidly treated," said Baldan on Tuesday, the first day of the seminar. "Furthermore, because of their high velocity, bullets and bomb fragments generally cause more damage then other types of injury. They have to be managed in a way not usually taught at medical school." The ICRC doctors will discuss the latest techniques for managing weapon-related injuries, with sessions on ballistics, orthopedics and prosthetics, and vascular and abdominal injuries. When the IDF retaliated for the massive Kassam barrages on Sderot and Ashkelon by attacking terrorist installations in Gaza earlier this month, local hospitals were overwhelmed with wounded people; the management of mass casualties in difficult circumstances is one of the main topics of the seminar. "A massive influx of casualties poses enormous challenges. Saving lives depends on hospitals being adequately equipped and having the skills to make the right decisions quickly," added Veen, who worked in Gaza with the ICRC surgical team in June 2007. "Gaza medical personnel already have a great deal of knowledge, because they deal with complex injuries all the time. The seminar is an opportunity to share experiences." During the past 25 years, ICRC surgeons have treated over 100,000 weapon-wounded patients worldwide. More than 35,000 cases have been entered into a database using a wound scoring system. Based on analysis, the ICRC has developed fundamental principles for the management of war injuries. The ICRC said it held war seminars for surgeons from countries such as Iraq, Sri Lanka and Lebanon, and currently had its own teams in Chad, Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. This is the third war surgery seminar in Gaza, following previous ones held in 2002 and 2004. In addition, the ICRC supports hospitals and emergency medical services as needed with surgical supplies, and coordinates patient transfers to hospitals outside of Gaza. Since November 2007, the ICRC has also been providing orthopedic and physiotherapy services inside the Gaza Strip.