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The effect of traditional healer intervention prior to allopathic care on pediatric burn mortality in Malawi.

Authors
  • Gallaher, Jared R1
  • Purcell, Laura N2
  • Banda, Wone3
  • Charles, Anthony4
  • 1 Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 3 Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Malawi)
  • 4 Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Malawi)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Burns : journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2020
Volume
46
Issue
8
Pages
1952–1957
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.burns.2020.06.013
PMID: 32631652
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Burn injury is a significant contributor to mortality, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Patients in many communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa use traditional health practitioners for burn care prior to seeking evaluation at an allopathic burn center. The World Health Organization defines a traditional health practitioner as "a person who is recognized by the community where he or she lives as someone competent to provide health care by using plant, animal and mineral substances and other methods based on social, cultural and religious practices based on indigenous knowledge and belief system." The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of prior traditional health practitioner treatment and assess its effect on burn injury mortality. A retrospective analysis of the prospectively collected Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Burn Surveillance Registry was performed from January 2009 through July 2017. Pediatric patients (<13 years) who were injured with flame or scald burns were included in the study and we compared groups based on patient or family reported use of traditional health practitioners prior to evaluation at Kamuzu Central Hospital. We used propensity score weighted multivariate logistic regression to identify the association with mortality after visiting a traditional healer prior to hospitalization. 1689 patients were included in the study with a mean age of 3.3 years (SD 2.7) and 55.9% were male. Mean percent total body surface area of burn was 16.4% (SD 12.5%) and most burns were related to scald injuries (72.4%). 184 patients (10.9%) used traditional medicine prior to presentation. Only a delay in presentation was associated with prior traditional health practitioner use. After propensity weighted score matching, the odds ratio of mortality after using a prior traditional health practitioner was 1.91 (95% CI 1.09, 3.33). The use of traditional health practitioners prior to presentation at a tertiary burn center is associated with an increased odds of mortality after burn injury. These effects may be independent of the potential harms associated with a delay in definitive care. Further work is needed to delineate strategies for integrating with local customs and building improved networks for burn care, especially in rural areas. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.

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