Project helping to reduce burn casualties in Nepal

A burn prevention project backed by Swansea University experts has had a dramatic effect on communities in Nepal.

Swansea University says, as a result of the initiative introduced by a partnership including its Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy and Research (CGBIPR), no serious burns cases were reported at all last winter. Before it started there had been more than twenty cases recorded within the three districts targeted.

The centre’s director Professor Tom Potokar is also founder and director of NGO Interburns which was involved in the project alongside Sagun, a charity focused on participatory community work in Nepal.

He said “A serious burn injury can be incredibly debilitating, especially in regions where health resources are low and not readily accessible – which is why this project made burn prevention the focus point.”

The CGBIPR was established to provide global leadership in the field of applied burns research, with a focus on resource poor settings. The results of its work will be used to develop strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of burn injuries and improving patient outcomes.

Nepal is one of the countries where it works intensively in partnership with other organisations, capitalising on the clinical training and experience of Interburns volunteers and the local knowledge of Sagun which has been able to provide insight into the most common causes of burns.

Tom Potokar said “Using information from research surveys conducted by Sagun we have shifted our focus to programmes advocating burn prevention and first aid in the communities.

“The incredible success of this project really is compelling evidence of the impact community-led change can have.”

Kamal Phuyal, from Sagun, led the programme that included working with female community health volunteers, youth volunteers, students, and healthcare professionals who raised awareness of burn injuries and how to prevent them.

Tom Potokar said “Not only has this shown that burns are almost entirely preventable but also that preventing burns is possible, even in low resource environments.

“Scaling up this pilot project to international levels would no doubt pose difficulties, but with such life-changing influence, would make a monumental difference to people living in regions where access to adequate health care is a luxury.”

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