Nepali Times
A burning problem



Sunita and her family were celebrating Dasain this year with the usual revelry when a leaking cooking gas suddenly exploded in their kitchen and left 25-year-old Sunita and five other family members, including three children, severely burned.

Burn-related accidents are on the rise in Kathmandu not just during the festive season, but also because of kitchen accidents, domestic violence and suicides. The burn units at Bir Hospital and Kanti Children's Hospital find themselves overwhelmed with patients, most of them women.
Young children also suffer disproportionately from burn accidents. This past Dasain, Kanti Children's Hospital, which has the only pediatric burn unit in the country, registered a total of twelve burn cases. Children aged 10-14 are the main victims of burns due to electrocution and firecrackers.

Paediatric surgeon Ramanandan Chowdhary says, "Lack of awareness and negligence on the part of parents put children at risk, dressing children in synthetic materials increase the chances of severe burns."

Treating burn patients takes time, it is expensive and hospitals sometimes lack the necessary financial and technical support. Nevertheless Bir Hospital and Kanti Children's Hospital have been working relentlessly to treat burn victims.

Since most patients come from working-class families, occasionally the staff even arranges meals for the caretakers.

"We try to give our patients the best service with available resources at a nominal cost," says Nara Devi Bariya, the head nurse at Bir Hospital's Burns Unit. "Most patients are referred to Bir from private hospitals, because they can't afford the services there," she adds.

However, hospitals have failed to make prevention of burns a priority. Nara Devi of Bir Hospital says, "We need to create mass awareness on how to prevent burn accidents. We could start by making burn awareness a part of the school syllabus."

Recently, Bir Hospital and Kanti Children's Hospital made an encouraging move by partnering with Burns Violence Survivors (BVS) to educate Nepalis about prevention. Wendy Marston, an adviser at BVS says it is important to raise awareness amongst young children who are most vulnerable.

BVS has been going to schools, training students about prevention methods and getting them involved in helping burn survivors with first aid. Many students have presented burn victims at Kanti Children's Hospital with toys and games and a few students have even raised funds to support patients. Says Marston: "If people start becoming aware right from the school level, many burn related accidents could be prevented."

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Lending a hand

1. Raghu

Nice article. But it would be appreciated is the methods of preventing it was mentioned as well so that we too can learn.



2. Puspa Raj Pant

Globally, burns claim more than 300,000 lives every year; persons below 20 years comprise one-third of all burn deaths. According to WHO estimates, about 1,100 people die due to fire/burns. However, the mortality figures may not present the real burden on burns in community because many of them remain un-reported.

Burns may occur at home/cooking area, work including catering or industries. The best way of burns prevention is to keep fire away from the people at risk wisely. Burn injuries are associated with various factors such as individual (age and sex), agent (sources of heat, fire or flames), and other environmental factors (no separate cooking place, type of fuel, and geographical location).

Burns get worse in absence of proper immediate first aid. Widespread negligence in leaving fire un-extinguished after use, improper disposal of cigarette ends, asking children to help in cooking etc. In urban areas, absence of safety audit of electrical wiring system and appliances, cooking gas and stove and use of kerosene stoves have become major threats for burns, by and large. As mentioned by the author, fireworks and deepawali used during festivals also have become a major threat for burns.

A highly specialised burn and plastic surgery hospital (http://www.nepalcleftandburncenter.orgin on the horizon with the aims to provide super specialised burns care services. Above all, detailed study of the profiles of burn victims from hospitals would definitely help identify major risk factors as well as potential solution.

3. nepalicheli

For sure Bhrikuti, "Prevention is Better than Cure....!!!" Million times; Zillion times.

Nice article. Kudos...!!!

Human, by nature, prefer to see, hear and talk about the sensational issues. Topics mundane as this are neglected in every realms of our lives. I wish the Deparment of Health make simple initiatives such as posters, banners on public areas to aware the locals. I have seen humungous billboard on the heart of the city (sometimes back) about AIDS and HIV and many supplementals; however, I have hardly seen any efforts on the awareness of simple appeal like "Washing Hands Frequently."

By washing our hands frequently, we will not only achieve the Personal hygiene but to the larger extent of Public hygiene. Then, the skeptics of my response will point fingers saying I might have this prvilege unlike innumerable. But, "hey", my friend - "Have you washed your hands after your last bathroom use????"

Well, while rubber necking in Zuccoti Park, few weeks back, my eyes caught a sight on this poster, and I would like to share with you guys- "Ignorance is Bliss, One You Know the Bliss is Gone....!!!"



4. nepalicheli

Erroneous on the quote above-

"Ignorance is Bliss, Once You Know The Bliss is Gone....!!!"

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)