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Int J Burns Trauma. 2013;3(1):18-29. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Burns in Tanzania: morbidity and mortality, causes and risk factors: a review.

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School of Nursing, Muhimbili University of Health Sciences Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Burn injuries in low and middle income countries still remain a significant health problem, even though numbers of burn injuries in high income countries have decreased showing that such events are not "accidents" but are usually preventable. WHO states that the vast majority (over 95%) of fire-related burns occur in low and middle income countries. Burn injuries are a major cause of prolonged hospital stays, disfigurement, disability, and death in Africa Region. Evidence shows that prevention strategies can work. However prevention strategies need to be tailored to the specific environment taking into account local risk factors and available resources. An examination of the patterns and causes of burns should allow site specific recommendations for interventions. This literature review, specific to the United Republic of Tanzania, was conducted by researching PubMed, SafetyLit, and African Journals on Line data bases for primary sources using key words <Tanzania> plus <burns, suicide, homicide, injury mortality, injury morbidity>. Two sets of student data collected as part of Bachelor's degree final dissertations at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences were used. In all, twenty two primary sources were found. Risk factors for burn morbidity in Tanzania are: 1/ a young age, especially years 1-3, 2/ home environment, especially around cooking fires, 3/ epilepsy, during seizures, and 4/ perceived inevitability of the incident. It was expected that ground level cooking fires would be found to be a risk factor, but several studies have shown non-significant results about raised cooking fires, types of fuel used, and cooking appliances. Risk factors for burn mortality are: being male, between 20-30 years of age, and being punished for alleged thieving by community mobs. An important factor in reducing burn morbidity, especially in children, is to educate people that burns are preventable in most cases and that most burns occur in the home around cooking fires. Children need to be kept away from fires. Epileptics should be monitored for medication and kept away from cooking fires as well. Community members need to be encouraged to bring wrong doers to the police.


Africa; Burn injury; Tanzania; burn morbidity; burn mortality

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