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Burns are a serious health problem globally. Every year over 300 000 people die from fires alone. Many more are killed by burns caused by hot liquids, electricity, and chemicals. In addition, millions of people are disabled and disfigured by severe burns. Survivors of burns often lead a life complicated not only by the physical consequences of the burns but also by stigma and discrimination related to the disability and disfigurement. The vast majority (over 95%) of these burns occur in low- and middle-income countries. People of lower social economic status are at higher risk of burns. People who suffer severe burns and their families are also very often thrown into further poverty as a consequence.
This suffering is all the more tragic because it is so preventable. Rates of burn-related death are much higher in low- and middle-income countries (4.5 deaths/100 000 per year) than in high-income countries (1.0 death/100 000 per year). This discrepancy is one of the largest for any injury mechanism.
In high-income countries, much has been done to lower the rates of burns through prevention activities such as promotion of smoke detectors, lowering …