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Steven Miweni, a clinical officer in the burn unit

The NC Jaycee Burn Center, UNC Department of Surgery and KCH have partnered since 2008 to improve burn care at KCH. The initial steps included describing the problem of burn injury. Similar to many developing countries, the majority of burns are pediatric and are sustained during meal preparation. At the time of the initial assessment, there was no organized burns unit at KCH. The first clinical improvement initiative was to create a dedicated burns unit, which opened in 2010. This entailed specialized training for the clinicians and nurses who staff the burn unit, which was accomplished through a Traveling Burn Fellowship program; with support from Johnson and Johnson, participants from Malawi trained at Baragwanath Burns Unit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Current activities are focused on improving the capacity of surgical care by opening a dedicated burns theatre, improving nutritional status in the burns unit, expanding the role of physiotherapy, and investigating possible prevention and burn training strategies within the central region of Malawi.

To date, UNC has provided and coordinated a significant amount of supplies to assist burn care at Kamuzu Central Hospital, including over 4000 laparotomy sponges, 500 Kerlex rolls, 160 Ace bandages, 50 staplers, electric dermatome and a skin mesher. We have also provided some drapes, gowns, and instruments to facilitate operating within the dedicated burn theatre set to open soon.

As we continue to develop the KCH Burn Center it will become a center of excellence for burn care in the Southeast African region. We will continue to provide high quality care and seek to improve outcomes through excellent initial resuscitation, burn wound management with state of the art equipment, a dedicated burns theatre within the unit, and excellent physiotherapy. We will begin offering ancillary services to burn victims and their caregivers including education and family planning. We will develop and implement aftercare programs to support the education and wellbeing of burn survivors.