Burn Prevention – Africa

Why burn prevention?

Burns have been recognised as a major global public health problem, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), which account for greater than 95% of global burn deaths, estimated at over 300,000 each year, emphasising the urgent need for increased funds for the implementation of prevention programmes as well as for reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation.

It is estimated that in LMIC, fire-related burns are the 6th leading cause of death among children 5 to 14 years and the 8th leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Burn injuries are also a leading cause of disability and disfigurement, causing an estimated loss of 10 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) globally each year, with an additional number of patients suffering from social stigma and marginalisation, which are harder to quantify.

Why the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery?

burn-prevention-africa1It has been estimated that surgery can address 7% of the total DALYs in Africa. In 2008, the World Health Organisation launched the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Programme, recognising that surgery is a public health issue. Disfigurements as a result of injury (e.g. burns, severed limbs), disease (e.g. leprosy), or congenital deformities (e.g. cleft lip and palate) all lead to debilitating and long-lasting effects on the livelihood of individuals caused by negative health outcomes, stigma and considerable economic burden due to potential loss of income.

The Project

burn-prevention-africa2In collaboration with AMREF Kenya (the African Medical Research and Foundation Kenya), the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Toronto is undertaking a study to identify the magnitude and factors that contribute to burn injuries, including assessing perception of the community towards burn injuries and identifying potential prevention strategies.

We sought to find out the answers to the following primary questions:

  • Who, in Kenya, suffers from burn injuries and under what circumstances?
  • What factors predispose people to burn injuries in urban, slum and rural settings in Kenya?
  • What are the underlying knowledge, attitudes and practices that lead to burn injuries?
  • How can these be changed to prevent burn injuries?
  • What measures could be put in place to effectively prevent the occurrence of burn injuries?
Burn Pevention – Africa