New funding to help global burns treatment and research

A £2 million research grant has been secured by Swansea University which will support studies into people’s health in low and middle income countries across the globe to help improve burns treatment policy and research.

Professor Tom Potokar

The National Institute of Health Research funding bid was led by Professor Tom Potokar, of the Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy & Research (CGBIPR) at the College of Human and Health Sciences.

The funding will enable the CGBIPR to build evidence-based solutions for improving the burns treatment policy and research internationally in close collaboration with the International Network for Training, Education & Research in Burns (Interburns), which has international partners in many developing countries.

Professor Potokar said: “The ambition is for the Centre to become the international hub for global burn injury policy and research. This is needed as burn injuries disproportionately affect people in poor countries and regions where there is chronic or acute conflict. They also disproportionately affect women and children.

“Unfortunately access to appropriate treatment is limited and survival rates are much lower than in rich countries. This also means that there are far more complications resulting in an enormous burden of death and suffering from physical deformity, disability and the psychological and social consequences of these traumatic injuries.

“The funding award aims to address these disparities by building an evidence base as to what is effective and achievable in the treatment and prevention of burn injuries.”

Burns - key facts

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described burns as the forgotten global public health crisis
  • Worldwide nearly 11 million people each year suffering burns severe enough to require medical attention, whereas burn prevention programmes training and burn care services are under-resourced.
  • 95% of burns occur in low and middle income countries and 70% of these injuries affect children (WHO 2011)
  • The best burn centres in high income countries can save burn patients with burns over 90% of the body’s surface area, while in low and middle income countries deeper burns of over 40% are almost invariably fatal.
  • Nearly four million women in low income countries are severely burnt each year, a similar number to those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.
  • The global epicentre of burns injuries is South-East Asia; in this region, three times as many women are burnt than contract HIV and AIDS. Burns in India are one of the commonest cause of death of women between 15-30 years (The Lancet 2009).
  • Fire-related burns are the sixth leading cause of death among 5–14 year olds. Burns are in the top five causes of injury that impact child mortality and morbidity and after the age of five, and injuries are the biggest threat to a child’s survival (WHO / UNICEF 2008)