Burn incidents exceeded annual average in 2020: data

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – The Ministry of Health recorded a surge in the number of burn victims in the country with in a significant number of cases occurring in informal settlements.

Incidences reported in 2020 exceeded the 200,000 annual average with the ministry having documented 213,770 burn incidents compared to 73,292 in 2019 according to Burns Awareness Statistical Data held by government.

In 2020, 698 burn victims were admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital 20 per cent of whom succumbed to various complications.

Male casualties accounted for upto 58 per cent of incidents reported.

Nairobi reported the highest number of incidents with 40 per cent of all fires being reported in informal settlements.

“It is paramount to continually target campaigns in informal homes as this seems to be the place that most incidents happen,” Shabaan Said, a Plastic Surgeon and Chairperson of Burn Society of Kenya noted.

Data showed 45 per cent of burns reported from homes were as a result of contact with hot drinks, food , fats and cooking oil.

The Burns Awareness Statistical Data further showed that Starehe and Kamukunji, compared to other sub counties in Nairobi, had the highest number of deaths caused by fires in homesteads with the causes still unknown.

From the data collected, major fires were reported by residents living in houses made of wood and iron sheets.

In his speech on behalf of KNH’s CEO Erickson Kimuri, Dr John Ngige stated that children below the age of five years made up of 48 per cent of admissions.

“Children sustained more scalds than any other age groups with LPG gas fires, house fires and electrical burns contributing to injuries significant and in descending order in contribution,” said Ngige.

“The data also shows that being a man and a child are perhaps independent risk factors for sustaining burns.”

The data also showed a majority of the patients were from Nairobi and Kiambu counties.

In observing the week of Fire Safety and Burns Awareness, the report singled out poor infrastructure, structural designs, a weak health referral system, and challenges in health care financing as some of the risks faced in management of burns in Kenya.

St John’s Ambulance CEO Alome Achayo emphasized on the need for First Aid Skills at the home front owing to statistics showing majority of the accidents recorded occurred at home.

“With statistics stating that one burn incident happens in every sixty seconds, this campaign is one of utmost important,” Achalo explained.

He urged Kenyans to enroll in First Aid training in line with the 2o21 theme Tuzingatie Usalama wa Jamii, which seeks ti create awareness for safety within communities.

“A majority of our incidents occur within the home set up and a good portion of them are burn related. A study showed that burns are the cause of 20% of all traumas seen at KNH. This reflects in the number of Ambulance calls that we receive at St. John with a majority or patients requiring referral,” she noted.

“On the first item, St. John Kenya holds Fire Marshall Trainings where members of the public are invited to learn about fire safety and proper management of fire related injuries,” she noted.

Rose Gitonga from the Red Cross called for a multi agency approach, and design projects that fit the needs of the community in fighting fire incidents.

She also called on various shareholders to come up with innovative approaches to fight fires especially in informal settlements.

“Point in case is the fire censuses that have been set up in Viwandani and adjacent informal settlements which have seen a decrease in fire breakouts.”

KNH and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) announced the establishment of a partnership geared towards improving referral links in healthcare.

Dr Ngige noted that a burn center which is still under construction at the KNH will help address some of the advance cases in burn victims

“As a hospital, KNH has entered into collaboration with other partners in order to improve care for NCD’S and burns specifically.”

The MoH committed more support to hasten the completion of the Burns Centre with reduced mortality and both short and long term conditions.

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