Burns and plastic surgery institute creates hope for Bangladeshi patients

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A burns patient receives treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute in Dhaka. (AN photo)
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A burns patient receives treatment at the Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute in Dhaka. (AN photo)
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Burns patients receive treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute in Dhaka. (AN photo)
Updated 27 October 2018
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Burns and plastic surgery institute creates hope for Bangladeshi patients

DHAKA: “It was like a nightmare to me. I only noticed a spark from the electric switchboard and the fire broke out instantly causing me to be severely burned in the hands, chest and legs,” said Mohammad Shamim, 25, a patient of Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute.
Shamim was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning after the fire at his factory.
“Here I am receiving the treatment and most of the medicines free of cost. The doctors and nurses are highly trained and cordial to me,” said Shamim, who received second-degree burns and will require two lots of surgery to recover fully.
Like Shamim, there are many other injured patients admitted to the burns institute, the only specialized burn injury treatment institute in the country.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the burns and plastic surgery institute last Wednesday.
“This 12-story burn and plastic surgery institute is the largest hospital in the world of its kind. It has 500 beds, 50 intensive care units, 12 operation theaters,” Dr. Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the institute, told Arab News.
He said that it will be an “one-stop treatment center” for burns and plastic surgery. Patients will receive the most advanced treatments from the institute.
The institute contains three different blocks: One is a burns unit, one a plastic surgery unit and the other will function as an academic wing.
“In this institute our doctors and medical professionals will get the opportunity to acquire excellence in their arena. At present we have the largest burns and plastic surgery institute in the world but we dream of being the best in providing treatment facilities,” Dr. Sen said.
The institute has a collaboration agreement with Singapore General Hospital as well as other renowned hospitals in Australia and India under which it will run training and research activities, he said.
It will take a few more months to run the institute at full capacity, Dr. Sen said. “We have a plan to invite world- famous doctors and plastic surgeons in this institute to interact with our local experts, which will eventually help the local professionals to enhance their expertise,” he said.
The Bangladesh government has initially spent $120 million in building the burns and plastic surgery institute, which will provide treatment, research and study facilities simultaneously with a workforce of 2,200 doctors, nurses and medical staff.


Scans on US diplomats in Cuba show ‘something happened to the brains’

Dr. Mitchell Valdes-Sosa, General Director of the Cuban Neuroscience Center, speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, on July 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 min 54 sec ago
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Scans on US diplomats in Cuba show ‘something happened to the brains’

  • Tablada urged the White House to stop using the issue “as a pretext to impose increasingly aggressive new sanctions” against the Cuban people

WASHINGTON: Brain scans of about 40 US diplomats injured in mysterious circumstances in Cuba reveal visible differences compared to those in a control group, researchers who analyzed them said Tuesday.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and led by professors at the University of Pennsylvania, does not draw any conclusions about the cause of the symptoms suffered by the diplomats from late 2016 into May 2018.
But the MRIs of the patients confirm that “something happened to the brains of these people,” Ragini Verma, a professor of radiology at UPenn and co-author of the study, told AFP.
“It’s not imagined,” she said. “All I can say is that there is a truth to be found.”
Verma added: “Whatever happened was not due to a pre-existing condition, because we test for that.”
From late 2016, diplomats posted in Havana and some of their family members suffered unexplained symptoms ranging from poor balance and vertigo to lack of coordination, unusual eye movements, anxiety and what victims called a “cognitive fog.”
The United States recalled most of its diplomatic personnel from the Cuban capital in September 2017.
Some of them have recovered and returned to work, but others are still undergoing rehab, according to Verma.
The US government never publicly explained the cause of the mysterious illnesses. It neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of attacks using some sort of acoustic weapon, as some US media reported, without offering proof.
Cuba has denied all responsibility for the incidents, which also affected at least 14 Canadian citizens. Ottawa also ended up recalling most of its diplomats from Havana in January.
At the request of the State Department, 44 diplomats and family members were sent from mid-2017 to UPenn’s brain trauma center to undergo MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exams.
Researchers compared those results with scans from 48 comparable subjects in two control groups. The differences are statistically significant and relate to the brain’s white matter as well as the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement.
A State Department spokesman welcomed “the medical community’s discussion on this incredibly complex issue. The Department’s top priority remains the safety, security, and well-being of its staff.”
Verma said it was vital to follow the diplomats and their families over time “to see whether these changes evolve or change.”

Responding to the report, Havana again denied all responsibility in the affair.
The study by the UPenn professors “does not allow clear and final scientific conclusions to be reached,” said Mitchell Valdes-Sosa, head of the Neuroscience Center of Cuba.
Valdes-Sosa told reporters that the study “does not show, contrary to what has been speculated... that the group of diplomats suffered brain damage during their stay in Cuba.”
A senior foreign ministry official in charge of US affairs, Johana Tablada, said that as of now “no evidence exists of any type of attack” against the US diplomats, and called on Washington to stop using that term in such an “irresponsible” way.
Tablada urged the White House to stop using the issue “as a pretext to impose increasingly aggressive new sanctions” against the Cuban people.