News & Events

Published: Sunday June 29, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday June 30, 2014 MYT 2:27:18 PM

Beware sugarcane accidents at bazaars

As sugar cane juice extractors are designed to pull sugar canes in and crush them to extract juice, children often find their digits crushed when accidents happen. – Filepic

As sugar cane juice extractors are designed to pull sugar canes in and crush them to extract juice, children often find their digits crushed when accidents happen. – Filepic

As sugarcane juice extractors are designed to pull the canes in and crush them to extract juice, children often find their digits crushed when accidents happen.

Come every fasting month, Ramadan bazaars have become something all Malaysians look forward to, with their fabulous array of food and drinks that are delicious and affordable.

For sugarcane drink lovers, these bazaars are perfect watering holes as stall operators seek to meet the demand for the sweet and cooling drink after a long day of fasting.

For Prof Dr Sharifah Roohi Syed Waseem Ahmad, these stalls contain a machine that has led to serious hand injuries in children, ie the juice extractor machine.

“Surprisingly, all the sugarcane machine injuries that I treated when I was working in a public hospital from 2003 to 2008 – about eight cases altogether – occur in the month of Ramadan, mainly in children,” says Prof Roohi.

Children should not be allowed to operate the machines if they are not supervised. – Prof Dr Sharifah Roohi Syed Waseem Ahmad

At the Ramadan bazaar, business is usually a family affair for stall operators.

Many of them bring their children, who find it fun to help prepare or serve food at their parents’ stalls.

However, as the children are inexperienced in operating juice extractor machines, they are more likely to be involved in accidents, like getting their hand caught in the machine.

The risk increases when the child is distracted with multiple tasks or tired due to the hot weather and possible low blood sugar levels after hours of fasting.

As sugarcane juice extractors are designed to pull the canes in and crush them to extract juice, children often find their digits crushed when accidents happen.

These injuries are difficult to treat because the damage to key structures in the hands are usually severe, and the wounds are usually exposed to fine sugarcane fibres and bacteria that are attracted to the sweet juice.

Today, Prof Roohi is on a personal mission to increase public awareness about such injuries, as prevention is the best way to avoid such injuries.

“Children should not be allowed to operate the machines if they are not supervised,” she says.

She also urges sugarcane drink sellers not to modify the safety features that come with the extractors just because they think it is more convenient.

When accidents happen, Prof Roohi strongly suggests that patients be sent to a hand and microsurgery unit at larger hospitals after they are treated and stabilised, to ensure that efforts to restore function to the injured hand are undertaken by specialists.

Visitors to Ramadan bazaars could also play a role, Prof Roohi says.

“If you see a child operating a sugarcane machine at the Ramadan bazaar, keep an eye on them,” she suggests.

Tags / Keywords: Health, fasting, accidents

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