Interaction Program on Burn Issues

Nepal - 23rd April 2017

BVS LaunchSponsored by UKAID, an important meeting bringing together stakeholder groups to discuss the burns issue was held at the Malla Hotel, Kathmandu on 23rd April. 

This provided an opportunity for representatives of DFID, UNICEF, FWLD, UNFPA, USAID, SAATHI, TUTH, NHRC, Nepal Police, SOS, Medical staff from Kanti, Sushma and Teaching Hospitals and reporters from  the Himalayan Times, Kantipur Daily, Kantipur Television, Rajdhani Daily and ACORAB. Special guests included the Honourable Health Minister, Mr Gagan Kumar Rana, Joint Secretary of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Ms Radhika Aryal Lamichhane, Head of DFID, Ms Gail Marzetti and Patron of BVS-N, Mr Bhusan Dahal.

The program was opened by BVS-N President Ms. Sulakshana Rana who welcomed everyone and introduced two burns survivors,  Sita Tamang and Simran K.C., who both gave thought provoking talks about their experiences.

Consecutive speakers highlighted the fact that there are problems in the health system which include the high cost of medical care, ineffective treatment of burns in health posts and zonal hospitals, lack of reporting systems and national data, poor knowledge of first aid at grassroots level and the lack of ICUs at the majority of hospitals. The long term effects of burns incidents leads to severe disabilities, financial liability, lack of physiotherapy, counselling and appropriate education or employment. Often burns violence cases return to the family where the crime was perpetuated or become homeless.

Some of these issues could be resolved by developing a national data collection program,  the location of funds for burns patients enabling them to be treated in Government Hospitals, and to establish a functional unit in Zonal and district hospitals.

Awareness programs are a vital tool in managing the issue. The introduction of an education program for Police, judiciary, hospitals, and other health care providers was discussed with the need to give priority to the Terai region. A public awareness campaign would help to change attitudes on burn violence and in preventing accidental burns injuries.  This program would endeavor to increase knowledge of immediate ‘first aid’ and subsequent actions to be taken when dealing with burns. Additionally nationwide medical staff need to be trained in burn management and how to record cases of domestic violence.

It was explained by FWLD Advocate Ms. Sushma Gautam that FWLD and BVS-Nepal filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in September 2015 to advocate for robust legislation to specifically support burns violence survivors. This included the cost of treatment and after-care at the expense of the government if necessary. Other provisions included the protection of any person filing a report on domestic violence, keeping the perpetrator in detention until the case is resolved and provision of facilities for rehabilitation and re-integration of ABV patients.

The Honorable Health Minister, Mr Gagan Kumar Thapa expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to increase his knowledge on the burn’s issue. He noted that the current hospital system counted the number of hospital beds and yet in coming years the government hospitals would be part of an “Integrated Health Infrastructure” which would ensure hospitals are known by the services they provide. He also encouraged co-operation on the burns issue between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women.

It was unanimously agreed that the meeting was important and useful. All parties were optimistic that from this point they would be able to positively move forward on the burns issue.