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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Post-election violence 2008 - Index of articles & images
for helpers of injured victims of violence
Dr. Alex Stevenson
June 06, 2008
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of this manual is to teach you to help injured victims of violence
as much as possible. Zimbabweans are under daily, vicious assault
in overwhelming numbers. The hospital system cannot cope -
and a clinic or hospital is often very far away. If we can identify
and treat some of the people ourselves, we can help free up resources
at the hospitals for the seriously ill patients.
As a Helper
you will be required, and able, to provide three vital services:
1) Educate relatives
about how to care for an injured person at home, if it is safe.
2) Look after and monitor those people who are too sick to return
3) Identify those people who need transfer to hospital and decide
how urgently that needs to be done.
any further it is important to understand two things:
this manual is aimed at people in Zimbabwe right now, with no
medical training, to do their best in very difficult situations.
It is not going to be perfect but will hopefully help.
you have to think about your own health.
1. Blood can
be infectious. If the blood from someone with HIV or other infections
gets into your own blood stream you may get infected too. As long
as you don't have any open cuts on your hands and don't
get blood in your eyes or mouth this is unlikely. It is up to you
however to decide how much risk you want to take. If possible use
gloves, plastic bags can be used as a substitute. If you don't
have these and have an open wound or are very worried about catching
HIV then you can still do a lot of good, but just avoid touching
blood. You can direct the patient to clean and dress their own wounds
under your guidance. Put bloody clothing in a plastic bag if possible
for the injured or their family to deal with later. Try and burn
or bury dressings that have been used on wounds.
2. The people
who beat up your patient may come and beat you up too. This is the
terrible reality of life in Zimbabwe. It's up to you where
and when you treat people. You will know best what your particular
security situation is where you are.
3. Helpers can
sometimes become very upset by what they see. This is only natural
as a human being. If you find this happening to you, talk to someone
else about it. If this doesn't help, then think about helping
in some other way rather than treating people at the front line.
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