Objectives: To determine the causes, magnitude and management of burns in children under five years of age who were admitted in the district hospitals of Dar es Salaam City, Tanzania.
Methods: In this study, a total of 204 under fives were enrolled. Questionnaires were used to elicit if the parent/caretaker had the knowledge of the cause of the burns, what was done immediately after burn injury, first aid given immediately after burn, source of the knowledge of first aid and when the child was taken to the hospital. Also the questionnaire was cited with data on the management of burns in the hospitals through observation and checking the treatment files.
Results: Forty nine percent were males while 50.5% were females. Most of the children (54.9%) were aged between 1-2 years. 78.4% had scalds while 21.6% had flame burns. No children were found to have burns caused by chemicals or electricity. Most of the burns (97.5%) occurred accidentally, although some (2.5%) were intentional. 68.6% of these burn injuries occurred in the kitchen. Immediately after burn 87.3% of the children had first aid applied on their wounds while 12.7% didn't apply anything. Of the agents used, honey was the most used (32.8%) followed by cold water (16.7%). The source of knowledge on these agents was from relatives and friends (72.5%), schools (7%), media (6%) and medical personnel (14%). The study further revealed that analgesics, intravenous fluids, antiseptics and antibiotics were the drugs used for treatment of burns in the hospital and that there was no specialized unit for burns in the hospitals.
Conclusions: Causes of childhood burns are largely preventable requiring active social/medical education and public enlighten campaigns on the various methods of prevention. The government to see to it that hospitals have specialized units for managing burn cases and also the socio-economic status of its people be improved.