Access to Burn Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Assessment of Timeliness, Surgical Capacity, and Affordability in a Regional Referral Hospital in Tanzania

Matthijs Botman, Thom C. C. Hendriks, Louise E. M. de Haas, Grayson S. Mtui, Joost Binnerts, Emanuel Q. Nuwass, Anuschka S. Niemeijer, Mariëlle E. H. Jaspers, Hay A. H. Winters, Marianne K. Nieuwenhuis, Paul P. M. van Zuijlen

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This study investigates patients' access to surgical care for burns in a low- and middle-income setting by studying timeliness, surgical capacity, and affordability. A survey was conducted in a regional referral hospital in Manyara, Tanzania. In total, 67 patients were included. To obtain information on burn victims in need of surgical care, irrespective of time lapsed from the burn injury, both patients with burn wounds and patients with contractures were included. Information provided by patients and/or caregivers was supplemented with data from patient files and interviews with hospital administration and physicians. In the burn wound group, 50% reached a facility within 24 hours after the injury. Referrals from other health facilities to the regional referral hospital were made within 3 weeks for 74% in this group. Of contracture patients, 74% had sought healthcare after the acute burn injury. Of the same group, only 4% had been treated with skin grafts beforehand, and 70% never received surgical care or a referral. Together, both groups indicated that lack of trust, surgical capacity, and referral timeliness were important factors negatively affecting patient access to surgical care. Accounting for hospital fees indicated patients routinely exceeded the catastrophic expenditure threshold. It was determined that healthcare for burn victims is without financial risk protection. We recommend strengthening burn care and reconstructive surgical programs in similar settings, using a more comprehensive health systems approach to identify and address both medical and socioeconomic factors that determine patient mortality and disability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-664
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number3
Early online date13 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

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