There has always been a mismatch in the resources available to treat neurotrauma and the large numbers of neurotrauma patients in Pakistan. Plus there is the unnecessary anguish and suffering of family members - from something that could have been easily prevented in many cases.
The population of Pakistan was 107 million in 1990 with only 28 Neurosurgeons - so one Neurosurgeon for 3.8 million population.
Exact data are not available but there were a large number of brain and spine injuries from road traffic accidents, falls from heights, and aerial firing of guns at weddings and celebrations. Looking at these problems, a Head Injury Prevention Program was set in place in Peshawar in 1997.
The main aim was to spread awareness campaigns amongst the Public for the following:
- Obeying traffic laws, e.g. no speeding
- Wearing seat belts
- Wearing helmets on motorcycles
- No kite flying on rooftops without boundary walls
- Discourage people from aerial firing
Many public seminars are held to spread the message; radio and TV programs are held regularly to bring the message to the public. The Neurotrauma Section of the Pakistan Society of Neurosurgeons was started in year 2000 - the Neurotrauma Conference was held in Peshawar. A section to highlight Head and Spine Injury Prevention was part of the program. This was attended by a large number of civil society, and college and school children. A walk was also done with banners highlighting all that could be done to prevent injuries. This has become a regular feature in all subsequent Neurotrauma meetings across the country.
Posters and handouts are given regularly to the relatives of patients on how to safeguard themselves from neurotrauma.
One of the Colleges in Peshawar developed as a part of their Curriculum to visit a number of schools and make children aware of how to prevent themselves and their loved ones from injuries.
Although not strictly injury prevention education, the commencement of the first formal ambulance service in Peshawar in May 2017, is helping to reduce the secondary injury resulting from long delays in treatment of people suffering neurotrauma.
Tariq Khan, MD