The Chad delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized a seminar on war surgery in N'Djamena on 4 and 5 November.
Around 40 surgeons and civilian and military practitioners working in the country took part. The aim was to raise awareness of the special nature of war surgery and also to make it easier to produce an emergency hospitalization plan in the event of a massive influx of war-wounded people.
During the seminar an ICRC medical team shared its experience in such matters as war-surgery techniques and casualty management and triage. It also discussed the rules of international humanitarian law governing the access to treatment in wartime.
"Wounds inflicted by weapons of war are unlike other wounds. They cause specific kinds of injury that require emergency care on the battlefield followed by appropriate treatment," explained Anne-Claude Rossier, the ICRC medical coordinator in Chad. "War-surgery techniques are not generally taught in medical schools. Furthermore, the capacity of medical facilities is usually limited in armed-conflict situations. We therefore recommend techniques that are simple, effective and reliable in order to save lives, reduce incapacitating after-effects and alleviate the sufferings of war-wounded people."
The civilian and military participants showed great interest in the seminar, which responds to a real need in the country. They attended in order to pool their questions, discuss their difficulties and share their experiences. The importance of training of this kind was demonstrated in December 2007, and especially in February 2008, when clashes broke out in N'Djamena and services in the main health-care facilities were seriously disrupted. The ICRC sent in two teams of surgeons to work together with the Red Cross of Chad to see to it that civilians and wounded fighters were taken to medical facilities in the city and that their needs were attended to in the best conditions possible.
The ICRC has been working in Chad and cooperating closely with the Red Cross of Chad for 30 years. Its activities in the country focus on protecting and assisting people displaced, detained, wounded or otherwise afflicted by the internal conflict and other violence in Chad or by the situation in Darfur. The ICRC currently has 270 local and expatriate staff working in all parts of the country.