“Trauma is the most common cause of death for those under 45 years, with traumatic brain injury accounting for about half the mortalities. It is time we developed an integrated trauma support system in our pubic health care architecture”, Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said at a function at Mussourie today.
Addressing the 23rd annual conference of the Neuro Trauma Society of India (NTSI), the Minister noted that World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that road traffic accidents would become the fifth most common cause of death and disability by 2030.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Over the years I have observed that our hospitals lack spontaneity and specialised staff to deal with trauma cases. We need an inter-disciplinary and horizontally integrated approach. I will ensure that the new National Health Policy focuses on this need.”
At the same time, it is important to have a culture of observing road safety discipline, he stated. The vast majority of Indians are unaware of the need to wear seat belts in cars. And even here, most think that wearing back-seat seat belts is unnecessary. As for helmets on two-wheelers, most women who ride pillion disregard the most basic precaution of strapping on a helmet, he said.
In this connection Dr Harsh Vardhan mentioned that he had written to Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, with the suggestion to make the wearing of back-seat seat belts mandatory by amending the Motor Vehicles Rules.
The Health Ministry is also drawing up an extensive list of suggestions for the Roads Ministry on safety. These include punitive rules for talking on mobile phones or texting while driving and removing unnecessary speed breakers because these cause spinal injuries. The Health Ministry is also receiving suggestions from public-spirited individuals and organisations which it is forwarding to the Ministry of Roads. One of them says that two-wheeler riders who don’t wear helmets should be denied petrol sales.
“India has 1 per cent of the total vehicles in the world, yet accounts for 6 percent of total road accidents globally. About 4 lakh road accidents are reported each year of which 1lakh result in deaths. With the vehicle population growing on our roads and highways, I realize the need to roll out a comprehensive and all-inclusive trauma support service,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
WHO’s Essential Trauma Care (EsTC) project advocates a wide range of activities to decrease trauma morbidity. This comprises surveillance and basic research to preventive programmes and effective trauma management strategies.
The Minister said he was concerned over the state of trauma reception in even the best hospitals of the country. “The victims are rushed to the nearest hospital by friends and relations with great hopes, but find to their dismay that the personnel and facilities are quite ill-suited for the task. About 55-91 percent of the reported errors that contribute to preventable death occur during trauma reception and resuscitation.”
The conference was hosted by the Doon Neuro Club and was attended by some of the leading professionals of the country drawn from Neurosurgery, Neuro-Critical Care, Neurology, Neuro-Anesthesia and Neuro-Radiology. There were also Neuro-Rehab experts and Neuro-Nurses.
The organising chairperson, Dr A.K. Singh, former Head of Neurosurgery of G.B. Pant Hospital, Delhi, Dr B.S. Sharma, Head of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the president of NTSI, Dr (Brig) P.K. Sahoo, Head of Neurosurgery, Apollo Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Prof. V.D. Sinha, Professor of Neurosurgery of SMS Medical College, Jaipur, Dr Sanjay Kumar of Apollo Hospital, Ranchi and Dr U. Dewan of Max Hospital, Dehradun, were present.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that since most of the victims of neuro trauma are young, the country loses much promising human talent because of the lacuna in spontaneous reception. “Through a mix of awareness building and protocol building in the supply side we could end up saving valuable human resources. That is why I am so committed to this cause,” he added.