According to the World Health Organisation, the term “accidents” are far from just a series of unfortunate events. They are now termed as “unintentional injuries”, and they are by all means, preventable.

Dr Arif Tyebally, Deputy Head and Consultant at the Department of Emergency Medicine at KKH  believes that unintentional injuries are the most neglected disease of the century.

“Our team at KKH sees it as a responsibility to raise awareness of prevention, as the consequences can be severe,” he said.

Amidst hectic clinical work, Dr Tyebally and a close-knit team of colleagues from the same department share the same passion – sounding the alarm when they notice a strong trend of childhood injuries.

The clinicians base this on data from an internal surveillance system within the KKH database that was set up in 2011.
“When the National Trauma Registry was being developed, Dr Angelina Ang, Senior Consultant at the Department, had the foresight to create a surveillance system within our own hospital database. Now we collect real-time data, giving us information as the patients are being seen,” Dr Tyebally said.
Dr Arif Tyebally's personal experiences during his time as a medical student nurtured his passion for accident-prevention in children
“In paediatrics, it’s important to know about the minor traumas because everything that happens can be a preventable cause for major trauma later on.”
More recently, the department was involved in public education to prevent submersion injuries. A media briefing was held on March 10 to raise concerns over a rise in submersion incidents involving children. “Between 2005 and 2010, we saw between one and 14 such cases a year. From 2011 to 2015, we saw up to 27 a year. So that's a big jump,” he highlighted.
Seeing the numbers drop is not just a clinical goal for Dr Tyebally. He shared, “One of my sisters’ children had a near-drowning episode when I was a medical student. Since then, I felt responsible to spread the message on drowning prevention and injuries in general, since I know the consequences can be severe.”
“We know one cannot reverse damage that has occurred as a result of injuries. My role in healthcare is to prevent these from even happening.”
- Dr Arif Tyebally, Deputy Head and Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, KKH
The team has been sharing such findings with national agencies with the aim of starting a national collaborative effort to design interventions that can prevent injuries. Their recommendations have led to better design of playgrounds at housing estates and revision of the new rule on car safety seats for children. They are hopeful for more improvements. In addition, the team has been sharing its medical expertise with some of these agencies to engage parents with educational efforts and promote the safety and well-being of children through media platforms, social media as well as mobile applications.

Further, the Emergency Medicine team is working with colleagues from other departments at KKH to introduce measures for childhood injury prevention from the very beginning, starting from antenatal classes.
Dr Tyebally noted that many doctors see their role in treating diseases, but in many conditions, there is no cure: “We know one cannot reverse damage that has occurred as a result of injuries. My role in healthcare is to prevent these from even happening.”