Measuring the global burden of burns—two new tools for researchers
An estimated 132,000 people died as a direct result of burn injuries in 2016 (IHME, 2017), and millions more burn survivors suffer disfigurement and emotional damage from the associated stigma. These are disturbing numbers, but limited data on the risk factors for burns has slowed progress to addressing this global health crisis.
Despite the limited data, a large proportion of burn deaths and injuries are thought to be cooking related. To better understand risk factors and begin decreasing the incidence of burn deaths and injuries, the Alliance joined the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch two tools that increase the body of knowledge available on the causes and risk factors associated with burns: the WHO Global Burns Registry and a Community-Based Burns Surveillance Toolkit.
The WHO Global Burns Registry collects much needed data on the risk factors associated with burn injuries from hospital patients requiring a stay of 24-hours or more and includes a simple, standardized form for information about hospital burn patients. The data collected in the registry will help guide prevention programming and allow hospitals to place their burn injury profile in an internationally comparative context.
The Registry increases the data on burn injuries and treatment in hospital settings, but because not all burn victims are willing or able to receive treatment at a hospital, it is vital to collect data outside of hospitals to paint an accurate picture of the prevalence and causes of burns.
The Community-Based Burns Surveillance Toolkit is designed to supplement the WHO Global Burns Registry by assessing prevalence and causes of burns in community settings. The toolkit includes a survey to gather information on the details surrounding the burn injury, e.g. location and activity at time of injury; how the burn was treated at home and/or at a health facility; and on the prevalence of impairment and disability. This toolkit was created in collaboration with the Alliance’s Burns Working Group, HERD Nepal, and Hilary Wallace (Fiona Wood Foundation) and was pretested and validated in Nepal.
In conjunction with the WHO Global Burns Registry, the additional information collected using the toolkit allows those working to prevent burn injuries to better characterize the scope and attributes of burn injuries. This data is necessary to inform policies and create effective interventions if we want to begin to address this global health crisis.
For more information on the pre-testing of the Community-Based Burns Surveillance Toolkit please see here.
For more information on the creation of the Community-Based Burns Surveillance Toolkit please see here.