Burns are a significant cause of mortality and disability in developing countries, especially in South Asia. Of the more than 300,000 burn fatalities worldwide annually, 90% occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). South Asian countries in particular bear a significant burden of this type of unintentional injury. Estimates of burn injuries in India are between 100,000 and 2 million annually; in Pakistan, burns are the second leading cause of disability and the 11th cause of death. In Sri Lanka, approximately 10,000 burn injuries and 100 deaths are reported annually.

While much has been done in high income countries (HICs) to prevent unintentional burns, including improving information-gathering systems to understand the epidemiology of burn-related injuries—which is fundamental in aiding preventative efforts—such strategies are lacking in many South Asian countries. Additionally, in South Asia, lack of advanced burn care facilities and trained professionals create further obstacles to preventing burn-related injuries.

Recently, a group of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, including JH-IIRU director Adnan Hyder, published the results of a systematic review of burn injuries in four South Asian countries: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This review provides an analysis of the trends in burn injuries, corroborates the findings of reviewers of burn injuries in other LMICs and indentifies appropriate target groups for intervention, as well as identifies gaps in the literature on burns in South Asia, and highlights the need for better information.

By examining the epidemiology of unintentional burns in South Asia, researchers can identify trends and gaps in information, which will in turn help to both identify appropriate target groups for intervention and identify the most appropriate kind of intervention.

“A Systematic Review of the Epidemiology of Unintentional Burn Injuries in South Asia” appears in the Journal of Public Health.  Find additional information here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23321681