The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently launched the Global Burn Registry – the first ever global platform for the standardized data collection on burn injuries. This new resource will provide health facilities with a clear picture of the major risk factors for burns in their own settings, as well as how these compare and contrast with other settings. This information is key to identifying and prioritising programmes for burn injuries prevention and management.
Burns account for an estimated 180 000 deaths per year, the vast majority of which occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (1). Non-fatal burn injuries are a leading cause of morbidity, including prolonged hospitalisation, disfigurement and disability, often with resulting stigma and rejection. High-income countries have made considerable progress in lowering rates of burn deaths, through a combination of proven prevention strategies and improvements in the care of burn victims. Most of these advances in prevention and care have been unevenly applied in LMICs.
A compounding problem is the fact that data collection for burn injuries is weak, making it difficult for countries to rationally prioritise prevention strategies. WHO and a global network of experts therefore undertook a collaborative effort to address this, with the aim of developing a simple data collection tool, which would provide a clear and standardised picture of the major risk factors and risk groups for burns. The resulting Global Burn Registry has been finalised following extensive pilot testing in 60 health facilities across 30 countries (2).
The registry is based on an easy-to-use data collection form that takes approximately five minutes to complete or upload and is used to collect information on patients who are admitted to a health facility with burns. Information collected includes non-identifying patient information; details on the cause, severity and location of burn injuries; the treatment administered by the health facility; and details on the specific health care facility and its capacity to provide specialist burns care. Data can be accessed and exported through the online Global Burn Registry interface, maintained by WHO. The data collection form, as well as the online interface, is available in English, French and Spanish.
Health facilities wishing to register simply follow the straight forward registration process that is available on the WHO website. The online interface allows users to view data from their health facility, as well as all other participating health facilities. De-identified data from the Global Burn Registry are publicly available for analysis by policy makers and researchers, among others. The online platform also provides extensive data visualisation and filtering capabilities.
The Global Burn Registry provides a great step forward for the burns field. It is expected that the registry will allow the burns prevention field to move beyond the currently fragmented approaches to data collection, and towards enhanced regional and global understanding of the epidemiology of this important public health challenge. This in turn will inform necessary burns prevention and management strategies in these regions.
Health facilities treating patients with burn injuries that wish to register to participate in the Global Burn Registry may do so through the following link: www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/burns/gbr.
1. Global Health Estimates, World Health Organization. www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates/en/index1.html.
2. Peck M, Falk H, Meddings D, Sugerman D, Mehta S, Sage M. The design and evaluation of a system for improved surveillance and prevention programmes in resource-limited settings using a hospital-based burn injury questionnaire. Inj Prev. 2016 Apr;22 Suppl 1:i56-62.