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Empowering clinicians to address the global challenge of trauma: an example from Myanmar

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Investment in clinicians and in hospitals can trigger wholesale change in thinking about health systems

Runner-up — Medical practitioner category

No one had thought to resuscitate him; shocked, hypoxic and drowsy as he was. This Myanmar Delta fisherman had been left alone with his obstructed airway and bleeding, bilateral compound femoral fractures. Hours earlier, he’d fallen from his boat and under the blades of the outboard motor. Dragged out of the water by his comrades, he didn’t receive any first aid and the local clinic care was woefully inadequate. Even at the national trauma hospital in Yangon, the fisherman lay unattended and neglected in the emergency receiving area.

He didn’t receive essential trauma care until we arrived: a team of doctors training to be Myanmar’s first emergency specialists and me, as their tutor. He needed simple airway support, oxygen, intravenous fluids for shock, pressure and immobilisation for his fractures, antibiotics and some pain relief. Not complicated, not expensive, but perhaps too late.

Fast forward 2 years, for that was in 2013, and I’m impressed by the rapid response to another trauma patient. She’s been hit by a car and has…