Epidemiology of burn injuries in Mekele Town, Northern Ethiopia: A community based study

  • Kidanu Estifanos Nega
  • Bernt Lindtjørn


Introduction: Epidemiological study on burn injuries and exploration of the risk factors in different settings is important for effective intervention. Very little is known about burn injuries in Ethiopia. Objectives: The aims of this study were to assess the annual incidence of burn injuries and to describe the local knowledge about burns in Mekele town in Tigray, Ethiopia. Methodology: We did a cross sectional survey of burn injuries on 7309 individuals in 1390 households.
Results: The annual incidence in burns was 1.2%. Burn had the highest incidence among children less than 5 years old (4.8%). Scald (59%) was the leading cause of burn followed by flame (34%). Most burns occurred at home (81%). Eighty nine point four percent of the burns healed with minor or no sequelae, 9.4% developed sequelae and the mortality was 1%. Crowding and employment were significant risk factors for burn injury. Domestic burn injuries were common among women of reproductive age and work related burns were more common among men. Many people (36%) used harmful substances with deleterious consequences as first aid measure for burn.
Discussion: This is the first study from northern Ethiopia and underlines that burn represents a major public health problem. However as we have used a long recall period people may have forgotten minor injuries and we may have underestimated the true incidence. Many people either do not know or have harmful misconceptions about first aid measures for burn injuries. Thus we recommend health education about burn prevention and first aid measures be given to the public.

[Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2002;16(1):1-7]

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eISSN: 1021-6790