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The Art of Human Care

   Brecon Beacon                                                                                                      Interburns at the European Club for Paediatric

                                                                                                          Burns (ECPB) 2009. (Left to right): Dr. Ron, Shobha

                                                                                                          Chamania, Tom Potokar, myself, Fiona Proctor and Dr. Kishore.

Brecon Beacon National park was the perfect venue for the European Club of Paediatric Burns meeting hosted in 2009 by Interburns in South Wales.

It was a wide-ranging participation of 55 experts from not only Europe e.g. Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Poland etc  but also from USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and Bangladesh. Although most of the delegates were typical of such conference participants i.e. highly focused, very successful burn experts  but amongst them were few who are a special source of inspiration for me personally. Let me introduce two of them to you.

Fiona Proctor is an occupational therapist from Liverpool . We (Interburns) met her in Dhaka in the corridor wards of Dhaka Medical College Hospital Burns Centre. Corridor wards mean no available beds but patients are nursed on the floor in their moms lap and the relatives are the main carer.

Fiona was surrounded by smelly and sick burn children of all age groups. Most of the time as she was working almost the entire day and sometime at night as well as her accommodation was also in an adjacent dark side room of this corridor with no electricity or running water etc. She spent four months there in that corridor.

I have spent 18 years of my professional life with burn patients and burn wound smell and suffering is a business as usual for me.  But at that moment, in that corridor, there was so much accumulation of innocent and helpless suffering that I just wanted to cry like a baby.

Fiona is an artist and her art is human care.  While working in Dhaka, she discovered that her training as an Occupational Therapist and the expensive techniques and equipment she used in United Kingdom is not sufficient and relevant to alleviate the disability and pain here.  The challenge in front not only required the scientifically trained mind but also a warm and caring heart. She had the both.

In order to cater the need of her poor patients, she went to the local hardware shops in the slums of Dhaka and bought drain pipes of different sizes in few takkas and with her scissor and innate brilliant creativity, developed very effective and extremely low cost splints that helped her to minimize the contractures and related suffering of her patients. The effort was in accordance to her passion and dream to minimize the human suffering!

Dr Kishore is 35, a hindu family man, born and educated in Dhaka , his salary is 15000/= takkas per month. He works in the same hospital for the last ten years where Fiona worked for four months. His hospital has 100 beds for Burn patients and the day he left for this meeting there were 229 in patients, mostly in corridor wards.

Kishore`s visit for this meeting was fully funded by Interburns and Interburns in collaboration with Zürich Children Hospital , have offered Kishore a four months Fellowship in Switzerland with free travel and accommodation and a  modest monthly allowance during his stay.

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