No fewer than 5,217 Nigerians have died on account of fire disasters since 1998, former President of Nigerian Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (NAPRAS), Dr Richard Ebere Nnabuko, has disclosed.
The disclosure was made during the ongoing 19th Annual Scientific Conference/General Meeting of NAPRAS in conjunction with Nigerian Burn Society (NBS), in Lokoja.
The four-day conference themed “Emerging Trends in Plastic and Constructive Surgery”, “Currents Trends in Burn Wound Care” and
sub-themed “The Role of Plastic Surgery in the Management of Disasters”, opened on Thursday.
In his lecture titled “Nigerian Fire Disasters: Identifying Bottlenecks in the Planning of Burn Care”, Nnabuko stated that the
victims of the various fire incidents came in various ages, shapes, sizes and complexities.
Most devastating of the fire disasters in the nation’s history, he recalled, was the pipeline explosion which occurred in Jesse, Delta State on October 18, 1998, which accounted for the highest number of casualties with 1,082 persons dead and hundreds injured.
According to Nnabuko, next to the Jesse incident were the multiple bomb explosions at Nigeria Military Cantonment, on January 27, 2002, which left 800 people dead and thousands homeless.
While another pipeline explosion at Abule Egba, Lagos reportedly killed 700 people on December 26, 2006.
Stressing the need for preparedness measures to be implemented throughout medical facilities at local and state levels, Nnabuko
noted that, in many cases, the measures are inadequate and insufficient.
He added that “a continuous state of emergency when wave after wave of patients reach the Burn Service Center will exhaust their human and functional resources without a continuous massive external manpower and supplies”.
Earlier, President of NAPRAS, Dr Iheuko Ogbonnaya, who declared the conference open, charged the conference of surgeons to evaluate
problems afflicting plastic surgery in Nigeria.
He tasked his colleagues to do an introspection on what they have done to improve surgery in Nigeria and the values added.
He also urged the surgeons present at the conference to brainstorm on the rush abroad for medical treatments by Nigerians and “runaway doctors that prefer to go outside the country, to practice their profession”.