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Saviour in Boots

Combat medics saving lives in Somalia.

Saving lives is the heart of medical ethics, and doctors, nurses, physicians and the whole lot of medical fraternity are committed to this. Muslims believe that when you save one person you are saving the whole world.

This wouldn’t have been further from the truth for one-year-eight-month-old Yusuf Abbas Yassin. Struggling to stand on shaky, feeble legs, Yusuf was determined to make another developmental milestone, something that has come late for him; the day fate frowned on him last year (November, 2012).

Yusuf, crawling and trying to stand and learn to walk, would make use of anything that seemed to provide support. A pot of boiling beans on a charcoal stove seemed support enough for him as he reached for it and hauled himself up.

Little did Yusuf know that boiling pots of beans are hazards he should keep away from. The pot toppled, spilling its contents onto him – chest, abdomen and arms.

As no first aid knowledge would be expected from a people whose country has been devastated by war for over two decades, the only place to turn to was the local hospital – Kismayo Hospital. However, his burns were not handled properly at the hospital thus they got infected.

What would have been relieving turned nightmare. There was only one place left to go – the AMISOM troops’ base in Kismayo. It was no problem to access the base – Yusuf’s father, Abbas Yassin, is a soldier in the Somali National Army (SNA) and had fought alongside the AMISOM troops till the fall of Kismayo from the control of Al Shabaab militia.

AMISOM combat medics diagnosed the injury as fifteen percent burns that affect the epidermis, but first they prescribed prophylactic antibiotics to counter the infection and stabilize the patient. They also assured the anxious parents that all was well.

Nonetheless, Yusuf had to be admitted.

To allow the patient heal fast, the burn wounds had to be cleaned thoroughly and contact with the patient minimized, though the weather condition – dusty and warm – slowed down the healing. Thus, a tent was erected for him in the base, a bed equipped with a mosquito net provided and his grandmother allowed to stay with him.

To many, civilian population that is, soldiers are the face of violence. In the heart of it, soldiers are ultimately saviours and peacekeepers. Societies once scourged by war, devastated by diseases caused by lack of medical care are saved from such throes by soldiers despite the means they use to achieve that. Thus, after the fighting and all, soldiers engage in activities to endear them to the local population.

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