UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: International EM

Title: Burns- The International Burden

Keywords: Burns, low- and middle-income countries, disease burden (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/6/2016 by Jon Mark Hirshon, PhD, MPH, MD (Updated: 1/16/2016)
Click here to contact Jon Mark Hirshon, PhD, MPH, MD

Every year approximately 265,000 people die from burns

·      The vast majority occur in low- and middle-income countries

o   The rate of child death from burns is 7 times worse in low- and middle-income countries compared to high income countries

·      Almost half of all fatal burns occur in the WHO South-East Asia Region


Non-fatal burns are a leading cause of global morbidity

·      In 2004, almost 11 million individuals worldwide were burned badly enough to require medical attention


Unlike many other unintentional injuries, burns occur:

·      Mainly in the home and workplace

o   Women are at greater risk secondary to open fire cooking

·      Approximately equally among men and women

o   Most other injuries occur more frequently in men


Most burns are preventable.  Developing an effective burn prevention plan involving multiple sectors is important.  Per the WHO, the plan should be broad with efforts to:


·      improve awareness

·      develop and enforce effective policy

·      describe burden and identify risk factors

·      set research priorities with promotion of promising interventions

·      provide burn prevention programmes

·      strengthen burn care

·      strengthen capacities to carry out all of the above.