Malawi burns patients rate at 15%: Queens Hospital holds awareness day

Maurice Nkawihe –Nyasa Times

Queen Elizabeth Central hospital (QECH) Plastic Surgery Clinic treats about 4,500 out-patients a year and about 75-80 percent of them are burn victims, Doctor Tilinde Chokotho disclosed on Thursday.

Chokotho speaking at the event
Chokotho speaking at the event

Chokotho, QECH Burns Unit Plastic Surgeon, also disclosed that currently, mortality is at 15 percent. He made the disclosure during National Burns Awareness Day held at Kanjedza Primary School ground, Blantyre.

“Out of 4,500 out-patients, 1,000 are new patients. About 75 to 80 percent of these are burns victims, which translates to about 800 new ambulatory burn patients each year,” said Chokotho.

“We register cases on daily basis. 300 patients are admitted due to burns, and one out of every five patients dies. Previously the mortality rate was over 20 percent, but now it’s around 15 percent”.

He said while some undermine the impact of burns, many people continue to lose body parts such as limbs due to burns, adding treating burns and scalds is expensive and that currently Burns Unit has limited resources.

“Fire is main cause of burns. But there are several factors that contribute to such incidents such as alcohol and epilepsy. Most injuries can be treated, this is why we call people to be responsible,” he added.

According to statistics, in 2014 the hospital recorded 270 as a total number of admissions and 50 percent of the admissions were under 5 years of age; about 70 percent were children under the age of 16; 14 percent of the patients had epilepsy.

The causes of the burns were mainly fire (44 percent), hot fluids (40 percent) and hot porridge (10 percent). There were four electrical injury victims, about 50 percent had more than 10 percent of their body surface burnt and 75 patients (28 percent) died, most of whom had the larger burns.

Meanwhile, Chokotho has proposed the need for government to establish Trauma Registry Surveillance System to monitor then number of injuries and provide information that can eb used to formulate appropriate prevention strategies.

And Plastic Surgery Registram for Global Royal Infirmary of Scotland, Thomas Reekie said the awareness was one of the adopted initiatives to reduce burns cases in Malawi.

“People sustain horrible injuries which make them spend more time in hospital. Its every expensive to treat burns cases, and people tend to lose their source of living because of time they spend in hospitals,’ explained Reekie.

He disclosed that the awareness day was part of ‘Reduction of Burns And Scalds in Malawi (Rebas 2) project funded by Tropical Health Education Trust.

The awareness was held under the theme “prevention of burns is my responsibility”. The event was spiced up with performances by Ben Mankhamba and Nanzikambe Theatre.

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