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Noran* from Yemen was injured by the blast wave from an explosion



London, July 24 – As the UK Government, in partnership with the Kenyan Government and the International Disability Alliance, host the Global Disability Summit in London, Save the Children is announcing plans for a practical new field manual to help doctors and surgeons working with children injured by explosive weapons in conflict zones around the world.  

Every day in places like Syria and Yemen healthcare workers are trying to save the lives of children injured by conflict. The field manual, which is expected to be available by the end of this year, will be a comprehensive guide for local non-paediatric specialists who are often forced to operate on and treat children with blast injuries with little or no previous experience or training. It will provide healthcare workers in conflict settings with knowledge and practical advice on the entire continuum of care, from point of injury to treatment to rehabilitation and mental health support.

The field manual was initially requested by Syrian medics and is being co-authored by specialists across the relevant disciplines as part of the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership – which is jointly chaired by Save the Children and Imperial College London. It is estimated that 1.5 million Syrians are now living with permanent, war-related impairments - including 86,000 whose injuries have led to amputations. Tens of thousands of them are children.

The initiative follows an announcement in Brussels by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, that UK aid money will be used to train medics to deliver trauma care in the most extreme conflict zones, including how to remove shrapnel and treat blast injuries.

Save the Children wholeheartedly endorses the UK Government’s efforts at the Global Disability Summit to address the stigma and lack of opportunities experienced by disabled individuals around the world. Children with disabilities are up to four times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect than their able-bodied peers. The charity also endorses the UK Government’s Charter for Change and will work closely with the Department for International Development to ensure disabled children aren’t left behind.   

Kevin Watkins, CEO, Save the Children, said:

“Part of the tragedy of modern warfare is that so many children are seriously injured. Yet even trained medics often lack the training and expertise they need to treat children. Doctors and surgeons in conflict zones have to make complex decisions, like whether or not to amputate a child’s leg in order to save his or her life, how to treat a blast injury or how to help a child with a life-changing injury re-integrate back into society. Save the Children’s field manual will help inform these decisions by providing a durable, easy-to-use, illustration-based guide.

“The idea for this manual came from medics working in Syria. We’re honoured to be partnering with the Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College London to help medics better care for children affected by the horrors of war, and to be announcing it at this important Summit that will shed a much-needed spotlight on disability.”

Dr Malik Nedam Al Deen, Medical Manager, Syria Relief, said:

“I’m a trained paediatrician but I never imagined in a million years that I would have to treat children for devastating blast injuries. Yet that has become the new normal in Syria, with hospitals and doctors at breaking point.

“This new field manual produced by the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership will go some way to address the huge knowledge gap in treating children injured as a result of explosive weapons. After seven years of war even treating simple fractures is difficult, let alone specialised surgeries. Ultimately, I hope this simple tool will save lives.”


For more information or to arrange an interview with Save the Children and/or Syria Relief:

Bhanu Bhatnagar: B.Bhatnagar@savethechildren.org.uk, 07467 096788

Dan Stewart: D.Stewart@savethechildren.org.uk, 07950 822494

Out-of-hours: Media@savethechildren.org.uk, 07831 650409


  • The Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership – co-chaired by Save the Children and Imperial College London – expects to have the paediatric blast injury field manual ready to distribute to medics working in conflict zones before the end of the year.
  • The field manual will provide key action points for each stage of paediatric blast injury, from point of wounding through surgery, rehabilitation and MHPSS (mental health & psychosocial support). The manual will support every stage of the trauma referral pathway - the entire paediatric blast injury continuum, from trauma care, through non-trauma care and tertiary referral care.  
  • The field manual will be durable, waterproof and readable in low light. Where possible, it will be illustration/algorithm-based with easy-to-read bullet points and reproducible on a mobile phone. It will have colour-coded sections for stages of treatment.  
  • The manual will attempt to cover the following key topics: First response, Triage, Pre-Hospital Care and Transport, Damage Control Resuscitation and Surgery, Emergency Care, Anaesthesia and Pain, Intensive Care, Burns and Plastics, Head and Neck, General Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Ward care, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation and Psychosocial care.
  • Save the Children is committed to increasing disability inclusion in our programmes and supporting implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), with a focus on promoting and protecting the rights of children with disabilities.