Some 25 years ago I wrote an article for presentation at the Ethiopian Medical Association meeting in Addis Ababa. I presented 300 cases of which the average weight was 500Gm. The incidence reported by the pathologist of cancer was 15%. The majority of malignant areas were very small and nothing further was done for those cases. In the following 25 years I saw many more.
After I had recovered from the illness which brought me home from my first stint in Ethiopia, I became the on staff surgeon of a large (602 bed) Queensland country hospital. The previous surgeon had become the full time Medical Director. As I took over he requested that I allow him to manage the patients admitted with burns. I was only too happy to agree. I can hardly remember a single time in my stints in Ethiopia when we didn’t have at least one burns patient and usually more in the wards.
Burns are common in Ethiopia for the following reasons.
- There are open unguarded fires in the middle of many huts.
- Mothers often have to walk considerable distances to get wood or water. They go when the baby or infant is asleep and the children either roll or fall into the fire.
- Most epilepsy is untreated and in an attack they may fall into a fire.
- Mud houses, built around old timber, burn in a flash if they catch alight.
- Electricity is frequently poorly installed.
BELOW THE LINE ARE PHOTOS OF BURNS – SOME ARE GRAPHIC