Often in Kilimatinde, people suffering from burns need emergency care and long stays in hospital. But some do not survive, and most wounds become infected. Cleaning and dressing the wounds is painful and difficult due to environmental factors and lack of supplies. In order to heal, the body needs good nutrition. This is another problem for the patients, who need to bring their own food to the hospital.
The last burn case we nursed in the hospital was a young boy who cried out in pain and fear while his wounds were dressed. They took months to heal.
Family and friends at a cooking point near Kilimatinde hospital. Photo: Stephen Taylor
The Kilimatinde hospital plans to improve its care for burn victims by establishing a burns unit. It will include training staff to improve healing of tissues, without pain, preventing burn scar contractures (the tightening of the skin after a second or third degree burn) where possible and offering rehabilitation. The unit will be segregated by gender and have access to a shower for cleaning the wounds, cold treatment and a locked store of impregnated bandages which are treated with special chemicals to help the healing of burns and promote a more sterile environment. This should mean better, faster treatment, with improved outcomes.
The hope is for a reduced length of stay and pain-free wound care, reduced infection, and protection and restoration of function where possible. The environment in which patients are nursed and treated will be improved, and links to a training hospital in Moshi will help the team continue to improve and use best practice.
Emergency first aid for burns:
- Burns should be treated by immediate soaking in clean, cold or lukewarm water. This relieves the pain and reduces damage by cooling the skin.
- Never apply any cream or grease.
- Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies. However, don’t try to remove anything that’s stuck to the burnt skin as this could cause more damage.
- Sit upright as much as possible if the face or eyes are burnt. Avoid lying down for as long as possible as this will help to reduce swelling.
*Honey can be used for the management of burns but it is not a first aid treatment.