If only we cared about each other
Posted Sunday, May 6 2012 at 18:00
- If only somebody cared about that school girl crossing the road immersed in her world; if only somebody cared about the fathers and mothers who entrust their lives to him behind the wheel; if only somebody cared about that careful fellow road user who would not spill a drop of blood... if only we cared about ourselves
The sixth floor at Kenyatta National Hospital is a unique ward where patients either have traction, are on crutches, have a cast, or have been rendered immobile by metallic implants.
Their only contact with the outside world is a television set at the entrance of the ward and their mobile phones.
Traction refers to the pulling on a bone or limb (as in a fracture) to relieve pressure or align parts in a special way during healing.
The weights used — typically five to seven pounds — are attached using tape, straps, or boots.
Three orthopaedic wards on this floor cater for adult patients while the fourth one caters for children.
Each of the four wards was designed to hold 32 patients, but house at least 100 patients each. A keen visitor will note that male patients outnumber the female ones.
Dr James Mogire attributes this to the nature of the jobs that men prefer — matatu drivers, conductors, or motorbike riders.
“However, the number of women in road accidents is increasing because they are also travelling more widely and frequently,” he says.
Increase in mobility should not result in higher road accident injuries because it negatively affects our economy as most of those who die or are hospitalised are in the productive age between 20 and 45 years.
According to Dr Mogire, a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, the strain on health facilities caused by road accidents is at an all-time high.
“By nature man, is a hunter and gatherer and in order to survive, he needs to move from one place to another,” says the doctor.
Dr Mogire notes that either pedestrians and motorists do not understand road safety rules or are simply careless.
In October 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, calling on governments to set dedicate the third Sunday of every November to victims of road accident and their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of these tragedies.
The World Health Organisation rates children, pedestrians, cyclists, and the elderly among the most vulnerable road users.
In Kenya, alcohol is believed to contribute to the growing problem of road crashes in the country.
“It is pretentious not to admit that we need more resources to run the orthopaedic and trauma unit at the country’s largest referral hospital,” Dr Mogire says, adding that this should be done in tandem with intensive road safety campaigns.
Last year, 8,185 traffic accidents were recorded, compared to the 9,089 recorded in 2010.
This indicates a significant decrease of 904 cases or 10 every day, according to the 2011 annual police report, which put the number of fatal accidents for the period at 2,760.