Severe burns remain a neglected health crisis in developing countries, particularly among poor women and children who use open flames for cooking and lighting and don't have access to medical care when accidents happen.
The Staggering Scope
Every 5 seconds someone is severely burned - more than 7 million people annually and almost all of them live in developing countries. More women worldwide are severely burned each year (4.1 million) than are diagnosed with TB (2.7 million) and HIV (1.3 million) combined. And the number of women who are severely burned in South Asia is nearly four times the number of those diagnosed with breast cancer. Burns are the only injury that happens more to women than men.
South Asia is the epicenter of the neglected global health crisis of burns. More children in South Asia die from severe burns than from HIV/AIDS, malaria and respiratory disease.
Severe burns leave their victims with disabilities that cost more than $80.2 billion a year in lost productivity (wages and skills) alone and almost all (95 percent) of that economic burden occurs in developing countries - undermining economic and social development where it is needed most.
Why Burns Happen
Burns are acutely tied to poverty. Half of the world still uses open fires for cooking, heating and/or lighting. In these households, disabling burns are prevalent. Overcrowded living conditions, lack of proper safety measures, loose clothing worn by women and insufficient parental supervision of children are other factors. The brutal disfiguring of girls and women by throwing acid on them or setting them on fire is tragically common in Southeast Asia.
Why Treat Burns?
Without immediate access to adequate burn care, burn injuries are left to heal by themselves, creating scar tissue that can destroy function and movement, and cause disfigurement in ways unimaginable. A burned foot, for example, might attach to the shin as the wound "heals" and the skin contracts, making it impossible to walk. A chin might fuse to the chest or a hand might tighten into a fist that fuses to the forearm. All of these severely impact one's ability to earn a living.
Like HIV/AIDS victims, burn victims are often hidden, stigmatized and shunned. Over the decades, ReSurge International has seen how ruinous and debilitating burns are for the victims and their families. They cause children to stop going to school because they cannot use their hands to write. Mothers cannot pick up their babies because they can no longer bend their arms; and fathers lose their jobs because they can no longer walk, plunging a poor family deeper into poverty. Burn victims often become invisible social outcasts, a burden to their families, hidden from society with little chance of becoming productive citizens.
Leading the Way in Burn Reconstruction
By releasing contractures, ReSurge surgeons restore movement and functionality to the afflicted areas. ReSurge has a long history of helping burn victims have a second chance at life. Today, around 40 percent of ReSurge's work is related to burns. More than 2,250 surgeries were performed last year to restore functionality to burn victims, renewing their hope and increasing their productivity.