December 1998 Bulletin

Academy supports ban on antipersonnel landmines

The Academy has adopted a Position Statement supporting an international ban on the manufacture, stockpiling, use, sale, transfer or export of antipersonnel land mines.

Current estimates place the number of land mines in the ground at between 80 and 100 million, affecting at least 64 countries, primarily in the developing world. Approximately 500 people a week, mostly civilians, are victims of these "eternal sentries."

Land mines pose a particularly harsh burden on society. Mines inflict ravaging wounds, usually resulting in traumatic or surgical amputation. They often cause severe secondary infections. Damage is rarely confined to one leg; lesser but still severe damage is frequently caused to the other leg, the genitals, arms, chest and face.

Reports from Orthopaedics Overseas volunteers have indicated that the largest category of cases seen at a hospital in Afghanistan are land mine related: acute trauma, infections, and the application of casts, splints, and prosthetic limbs.

Victims who survive land mine explosions require extensive medical and rehabilitative services, many that are orthopaedics related. Few available surgeons in the land mine-afflicted countries are trained in the repair and management of land mine injuries. Land mine amputees are often deemed valueless and burdensome within their societies. Many are abandoned and left destitute.

Excerpted from the Academy's Position Statement on Banning Antipersonnel Land Mines which is in the "Library" section of the Academy's home page www.aaos.org.


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