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JIS News

With schools reopening this week, motorists are being urged to be mindful of children using the roadways.The appeal comes from the Bustamante Hospital for Children, in the wake of the noticeable increase in the number of road traffic accidents involving children within the first two weeks of the recommencement of school.
Dr. Dayanand Sawh, Orthopaedic Surgeon at the hospital, told JIS News that, “there is always a sharp spike in the baseline injury level coming into the hospital at this time of the year. This spike stresses our fragile resources of materials and manpower.”
According to Dr. Sawh, during this period, many of the nation’s children were on the roads, many attending school for the first time. He noted that studies show that children under the age of eight years were unable to gauge speeds properly and were not fully capable of understanding the true concept of road safety. “This is why the majority of children, who are injured are nine years or less,” he pointed out.
As for older children, he noted that while they understood the concept of road safety better than the younger children, there was still need for some adult supervision. “I believe that the younger children have to be supervised as they go to and from school and I do not believe that older children should be in charge of younger children, because a nine-year old keeping tabs on a three-year old and a five-year old is a recipe for disaster,” Dr. Sawh stated.
“Adults are the ones who really need to take the safety of their children seriously, even if it means taking the time out of their schedule somehow to walk the child to safety,” he added.
Commenting on the types of injuries suffered by children as a result of road accidents, Dr. Sawh said that the worst injuries seen were the open fractures, where the bones stick out through the skin and soft tissues. “The bone can potentially become infected and we might have to shorten the bone at that point in addition to cleaning out the wound. There is usually tremendous scaring afterwards,” he noted.
He said that some injuries might cause blood vessel or nerve damage, or even lead to the amputation of limbs. Dr. Sawh noted that thankfully, the hospital has not had any major amputations for the last two years.
He further mentioned that the more frightening injuries were those to the spine and head. The latter, he pointed out, may lead to brain damage.
“Every child that comes to the hospital and goes home cannot return to normal. If the child has a severely mangled limb and if a child has severe brain damage after a massive road traffic accident, we cannot make that child normal again and this is a tragedy,” Dr. Sawh said.
Meanwhile, he informed that last year, there was a decrease in accident-related cases at the hospital and credits the decline to the road safety programmes being conducted by schools.
He urged parents to insist that the schools continue these programmes and for the police to make regular visits to the schools, noting that, “our goal is to see no road traffic accidents at all involving children.”
The Outpatient Department of the hospital sees about 13,000 children annually, and the Casualty Department attends to about 70,000 children per year.