Burn injury victims, largely comprising women and children, will have access to significantly improved treatment at the Kilpauk Medical College with the government sanctioning the upgrade of the burns unit at the hospital into a Centre of Excellence.

The State Budget presented in the Assembly has earmarked Rs. 5 crore for the upgradation plan.

The Budget, which also states the government's intent to revive vaccine production at King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy, has also allocated another Rs. 5 crore for a tissue bank – a measure that could immensely benefit burns victims.

The 50-bed burns ward at KMC, which receives around 3,500-4,000 patients annually, has been struggling with inadequate space for providing treatment and dressing patients' wounds.

Space constraints can impact treatment of burns perhaps more than any other medical conditions because of higher exposure to infections and longer duration of hospital stay, doctors said.

V. Jayaraman, head of the department, said over 90 per cent of the patients report at the hospital with more than 50 per cent burns and their survival chances are bleak. For many years now, the hospital has been trying to start a rehabilitation ward for victims of burns. The patients need socio and psychological support after the treatment, which often leaves them with physical and emotional scars.

Welcoming the decision, Dr. Jayaraman said, “We are planning a separate burns block and we want to have 75 beds. We need an intensive care unit with ventilator support, intermediate care ward (before patients are sent to the designated wards) and a paediatric ward. Every day, we get at least one or two paediatric patients. Currently we have 10 such patients.”

An official at the King Institute said that the tissue bank will collect the placental waste which is thrown away by maternity hospitals and later incinerated. The amnion material will be processed to receive totipotent cells (stem cells) which help the organs develop in the womb. These cells are retrieved and processed and using standard operating procedure and then used to treat burns victims. The cells will heal the wound caused by second degree burns.

Kitchen-related mishaps

According to data with the Union Health Ministry, which is giving shape to a Rs. 2,933-crore national programme to reduce burn injury incidence and lower deaths and disability due to burn-related trauma, at least four out of five burn injury victims are women and children. As many as 80 per cent of admissions are caused by kitchen-related mishaps.

As a CoE, the unit at KMC could better carry out training programmes in burn management protocols for physicians and nurses of other hospitals. The Plastic Surgery Department last year was given recognition by the National Academy of Burns-India (NABI) as a centre for training doctors in treating burn injuries.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012