Physicians for Peace Teams with Oscar Winning Surgeon to Provide Hope for Acid Attack Victims in Colombia

Dr. Mohammad Jawad to Train Colombian Burn Doctors in Specialized Care for Acid Burn Survivors NORFOLK, Va. – June 24, 2013 – Physicians for Peace, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities heal themselves through medical training and education in high impact areas of healthcare, has recruited Academy Award winner, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, as part of a team of specialists providing Colombian medical professionals the skills and knowledge they need to treat the rising number of victims of acid attacks in the country.

Dr. Jawad is internationally known for his remarkable skills and high profile plastic surgery cases in the area of burn care. In his documentary, Saving Face, he shares the stories of women victimized by brutal acid attacks. The film follows Dr. Jawad in his work to reconstruct and heal victims in Pakistan.

“When it comes to acid burns, one is too many. Acid attacks are mainly against women as the assailant wants to destroy the face because it is her identity. They become the walking dead. This horrible issue needs to be brought to the attention of the states. My philosophy is if you treat these patients with a lot of compassion and restore them to normality, then they can go back be an effective member of society. I am very pleased to be in Colombia with Physicians for Peace to share what we know about acid burns. We have achieved quite a few objectives here: we have transferred the skills, shared our knowledge and encouraged them to continue burn care education” said Dr. Jawad.

Acid flinging, where acid or other caustic liquids are intentionally thrown on women or young girls in an attempt to maim, disfigure or blind them, are often acts of revenge, according to the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims – usually at their faces – burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties. Of the 1,500 acid attacks reported globally each year, 80 percent are against women.

According to a recent study investigating acid attacks in Bogota, Colombia, the first identified survivor of acid violence in Bogota was attacked 15 years ago. By last year, there were 150 reported acid attacks in Colombia, and reports indicate that 2013 figures will be even higher. The average age of survivors was about 23 years old, but ranged from 13 to 41 years.

Physicians for Peace began its burn care program in1992, and has conducted burn care training in over 15 countries throughout Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since then. “In 2012, our partners in Colombia, Simon Bolivar Hospital and Fundacion del Quemado, identified a need for specialized training in reconstructive surgery, facial masks, early rehabilitation and physical therapy techniques for acid burn victims. Responding to this need, our training mission brings together a multidisciplinary team of International Medical Educators, including surgeons, nurses and rehabilitation specialists from six different nations to demonstrate a patient-centered care model” said Ron Sconyers, President and CEO of Physicians for Peace.

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