Improving Burn Care in Bangladesh and Nepal since 2013 in partnership with DFID (June 2019)

June 30, 2019
Richard Bendell


6 years ago in 2013, Interburns began its first large international project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), supporting 14 hospitals in Bangladesh and Nepal. South Asia is one of the regions of the world with the highest rate of burn injuries and deaths, and neither Bangladesh nor Nepal are exceptions to this trend. An estimated 173,000 Bangladeshi children are moderately or severely burnt every year and burns are the second most common form of injury in Nepal, with 5% of all disability in the country resulting from a burn and subsequent complications. Even a relatively minor or moderate burn can cause a high level of disability and suffering if not treated in a timely and effective manner.

The aim of this project was to deliver measurable improvements in the delivery of services and treatment of patients at burn services of various levels, ranging from small community hospitals through to large national centres specialising in adult and paediatric care for burns. Working in partnership with 3 local NGOs, Acid Survivors Foundation, Nepal Burn Society, and Sagun, Interburns delivered a wide-ranging programme of capacity-building and training to assess services, improve care and provide local staff with the support they need. The success of this first project, which was completed in 2016, led to DFID supporting a further 3 year programme building on the foundation of the first, which came to an end in June 2019.

Over 6 years from 2013 to 2019, Interburns and its local partners achieved and exceeded all our project targets, making a significant impact on the system of burn care in both countries:

  • All 14 project hospitals showed tangible improvements in multiple areas of care, assessed against internationally-agreed standards for burn services. The hospitals ranged from small regional units in remote districts to large national centres treating hundreds of patients per day.

  • Almost 40,000 burn patients who were treated as inpatients in the project services received improved care (39,967), with a further 173,399 outpatients receiving additional care.
  • 1,599 health care professionals received training in burn care, with 1,477 participating in Essential Burn Care (EBC) programmes run by our local partners in Bengali and Nepali, and a further 122 senior and experienced staff attending Advanced Burn Care training for their discipline.

  • 4 new training programmes were developed specifically for staff working in burn care in resource-poor settings. A Basic Burn Care training was developed for primary-level health care staff, while 3 Advanced Burn Care modules on Surgery, Nursing and Rehabilitation were created to develop advanced clinical skills and problem-solving. Together with our existing EBC course, this provides a comprehensive suite of training in burn care for staff working at all levels of the health system, all designed specifically for the challenges of working in environments with limited resources and funding.

  • 4 community surveys were delivered in Nepal in 2014 and 2018, to better understand the incidence, aetiology and attitudes towards burns in rural and urban communities. The surveys provided the foundation for the development of a community prevention programme, which is currently ongoing in Nepal as well as 2 other countries.

  • The projects as a whole relied on over a hundred volunteers with expertise in nursing, surgery, rehabilitation and physiotherapy, service development, research, community health and other fields, as well as the hundreds of local staff who participated in the project.

Interburns would like to thank the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for their continuing support, as well as our partners in Bangladesh and Nepal, Acid Survivors Foundation, Nepal Burn Society and Sagun, for all their work in delivering these vital programmes.