Human and Health Sciences help create international Basic Burn Care programme in Ethiopia

Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences is a key partner in a pioneering collaboration that has developed a Basic Burn Care programme in Ethiopia.

The college, which launched the Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy and Research (CGBIPR) last year, has been working alongside the international NGO Interburns to develop a training programme for basic burn care and prevention in low and middle-income countries.

Earlier this month, a diverse group of medical professionals from across the globe met in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to discuss the programme – including Swansea University’s Professor Tom Potokar OBE, also the Director of Interburns.

The participants worked together to develop a system for primary-level healthcare workers, which will enable more effective burns management at a local level across countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Malawi, Kenya, Egypt, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Ethiopia.

The programme is aimed at developing the capabilities of community health workers in low and middle-income countries so that effective first aid can be implemented at local health posts, with those patients with more severe burns being referred to specialist hospitals and burns units as needed.

Basic Burn Care was funded through Hub Cymru Africa, with additional support from the NIHR Global Health programme, as well as the UK Department for International Development.

Interburns is an international volunteer network of expert health professionals working to transform global burn care and prevention through education, training, research and capacity-building. Their work is guided by the philosophy that all burns patients can be provided with good quality care despite limited resources.

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Professor Tom Potokar OBE (back row, black shirt) pictured with health professionals attending the workshop in Ethiopia

Professor Tom Potokar OBE said:

“Information from our international colleagues, and from the research available, clearly states that there is a gap in knowledge in terms of first aid in relation to burns.

“By enabling healthcare workers in low and middle-income environments to provide more effective local treatment, we hope to build capacity within communities to reduce the impact and burden of burns.”

Richard Nnabuko, a consultant plastic surgeon and previous president of the Pan African Burns Society, and Interburns trustee, said:

“What Interburns try to do is create something which is contextual.

“What is in the books may not apply to our environments, and the people who wrote these books are not in touch with the reality of what happens in low and middle income countries.

“It has been a privilege working with all of you, and we hope that in the shortest possible time we can start delivering this basic burn care training, as this is something which is required as quickly as possible.”

Dr Abiye, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Aewditu Memorial Hospital in Ethiopia, said:

“Burn care is not something which every professional wants to be involved in, and there are very few experts in Ethiopia.

“Working with Interburns and CGBIPR gives us leverage to talk to the policy makers, and we are sure that this Basic Burn Care work will help us to change things.”

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About the research

This research was commissioned by the National Institute of Health Research using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:

  • Funds high quality research to improve health
  • Trains and supports health researchers
  • Provides world-class research facilities
  • Works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • Involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website.