Only 2 burns units in Bengaluru: Fire safety collective asks for more in hospitals

Only two hospitals in the city have specialised burns wards, while thousands of people die in fires every year.
Only 2 burns units in Bengaluru: Fire safety collective asks for more in hospitals
Only 2 burns units in Bengaluru: Fire safety collective asks for more in hospitals

A fire safety collective, Beyond Carlton, has demanded that the Karnataka government pay more attention to victims of fire accidents. According to information shared by Beyond Carlton, there are only two hospitals for victims of fire accidents in Bengaluru. Only St John’s Hospital and Victoria Hospital have dedicated burns units. The information was received from RTIs filed and information gathered by Beyond Carlton.

“Victims of burns need specialised care for months on end. There are very specific hygiene requirements, and bandages need to be changed by trained nurses every day. There even may be a need for skin grafting, and this works out to be very expensive, even if people go to private hospitals,” says Uday Vijayan, founder of Beyond Carlton.

The Union government provides funds specifically for this, under the National Programme on Prevention and Management of Burn Injuries (NPMMBI). Under this scheme, the Centre provides 75% of the funding for setting up of burns units in government district hospitals. However, this has not been adequately utilised by the Karnataka government, says Beyond Carlton.

Beyond Carlton was formed after the Carlton Towers fire accident on February 23, 2010. The fire claimed nine lives, and left 50 people injured. The accident was exacerbated by the fact that the eight storied building had no fire escape. The organisation advocates for better fire safety, and they are commemorating their tenth year of being set up, this year.

“So many people are affected by burns cases, but there is no adequate infrastructure in place to support the recovery of these people. So are we going to leave them to die? The government needs to take action and set up burns units in every district hospital, and provide the staff with the specialised training that they need,” Uday added.

Beyond Carlton demands are that the government sets up a burns ward in every government hospital in the state of Karnataka. They also demand that Karnataka have skin banks across the state. There is currently one skin bank in the state, but Uday says that this is not at all sufficient for the needs of people.

According to the latest data put out by the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), as many as 12,748 people died in burns cases in the year 2018. In 2018, a total of 13,099 cases of fire accidents were reported in the country and about 13,397 cases in the year 2017.

The data also shows that women are especially vulnerable when it comes to burns incidents. Out of the 12,748 fire deaths in 2018, 7,244 were women while 5,503 were men.

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