Nearly 11 million people are burned each year (one every five seconds). Over 96 percent of fatal fire-related burns occur in low- and middle-income countries. Why? Poverty. Nearly half of the world still uses open flames for cooking, heating, or lighting. Women and children are at particular risk. Those who survive their burns are often permanently disabled, costing more than $4 billion per year in lost productivity. Some burn victims are shunned from their communities too. This is all because of the pernicious nature of burn scars. When a burn is left to heal on its own due to the distance or cost of receiving treatment, tightening scar tissue can disfigure and ruin the function of an appendage: a hand contracts into an immovable fist; or a foot fuses to the shin, making it impossible to walk.
Traffic and Other Accidents
More than a million people are killed each year in traffic accidents and 20 to 50 million are injured. About 90 percent of them live in developing countries even though those countries have only 54 percent of the world’s automobiles. Those that survive their injuries often become permanently disabled because they don’t have access to reconstructive surgery.