Dinasha Dahanayake, MD

Nominated From: University of Washington

Research Site: Nepal Cleft and Burn Center

Research Area: Burn, Trauma, Critical and Injury Prevention

Primary Mentor: Dr. Barclay Stewart, Dr. Shankar Man Rai

Research Project

Defining the hazards and epidemiology of fires and burn injuries in slum, urban, and rural communities in Nepal

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) bear a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality resulting from burn injuries, emphasizing the critical need for public health efforts. Nepal is significantly burdened by a high prevalence of burn injuries attributed to factors such as energy poverty, traditional practices, limited access to quality burn care, and environmental conditions. We aim to address the elevated incidence of burn injuries in Nepal, focusing on slum, urban, and rural communities, to develop targeted strategies for fire and burn injury prevention. Through cross-sectional research methods, including cluster-randomized, population-based surveys conducted in selected slum, rural and urban areas, we will identify and describe common risk factors and causes of fire, burn, and electrical injuries across different community settings. Interviews, home incident investigations, and hazard assessments will be conducted to provide valuable insights into burn injuries and to the development of evidence-based prevention strategies that promote fire safety in urban, slum, and rural areas of Nepal.

Research Significance

Nepal experiences a high incidence of burn injuries, with burns accounting for the third leading cause of injury in the country, trailing fall injuries and road traffic accidents. Individuals in Nepal who suffer from burn injuries face significant challenges in accessing high-quality acute burn care and reconstruction, resulting in preventable disability and death. The risks of fire and burn injuries, as well as barriers to adequate care, disproportionately affect people residing in slums and rural areas. Unfortunately, limited efforts have been made to identify and mitigate hazards leading to burn injuries specifically as it relates to these vulnerable populations. The absence of a national burn registry and insufficient epidemiological data further compounds the issue, potentially leading to underestimations of reported incidence and mortality rates. This lack of data significantly hinders our ability to recognize and address specific hazards associated with fires particularly within distinct urban, slum, and rural communities in Nepal. To implement effective burn prevention strategies, further epidemiological data is necessary in order to tailor solutions specific to these unique communities in Nepal.


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