Burn Care

Lack of capacity in surgical burn care in sub-Saharan Africa

Burn injuries are one of the most common and devastating global health problems. The vast majority of burns occur in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Good quality burn care is essential to reduce mortality and disability from burn injury. However, the capacity to systematically provide burn care remains limited in these countries. Also, research on surgical burn care in resource limited settings is only scarcely available. For example, little is known about surgical outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Effort is needed to have a better understanding of limitations in access to safe surgical burn care in LMICs.”

In response to this, Haydom Lutheran Hospital (HLH, Tanzania), in collaboration with Global Surgery Amsterdam, developed a research project to evaluate the access, safety and outcomes of surgical burn care. In August 2017 the project kicked-off with a research project on two main topics: acute burn wound treatments and contracture release surgery. This is the first research project in a sub-Saharan Africa, evaluating on the long-term outcomes of acute burn wound management and contracture release surgery.

Study on acute burn wounds

The study on acute burn wounds provides insights into the short and long-term benefits of acute burn care, involving skin grafting. Next to this, this study also evaluates access to burn care.

During the first year of the study, 87 patients with acute burn injury were admitted to the hospital. 31 patients received surgical treatment of which 26 patients received at least one skin graft procedure.

Study on contracture release surgery

Patients that underwent contracture release surgery were studied over a period of one year. After two missions, 44 patients were included and contracture release surgery was performed in 69 joints.

Current activities

Currently the follow-up is in progress. We have started the data analysis and writing of the articles. Coming months several congresses will be visited, were we will share the stories of the burn survivors

A spin-off from this project is the development of the iBook ‘Treatment of burns and scars’. This is a multimedia teaching tool, which can be used as a ‘off the job training tool’. It aims to teach junior doctors and surgeons in the essentials of surgical burn care, using pictures, graphics and videos. The launch of the book is expected in Q1 2020.

Main researchers:

  • Thom Hendriks, M.D.
  • Matthijs Botman, M.D.