The Issue With Burns
Peru is situated in South America and has a population of over 32.5 million people. The capital city, Lima, is home to over 9.7 million; with the others living mainly along the coast. Around 21% of the population of Peru live under the poverty line
Poverty, overcrowding, lack of parental supervision and lack of education are important contributors to the high incidence of accidental burns in children. Burns are caused by accidents related to:
Cooking on or near the floor
Pots of oil or boiling water on the floor
Unsafe electrical connections
Widespread use of pressurized gas for cooking
Annually, over 7,000 children suffer from serious burns that would benefit from intensive rehabilitation and long term follow up care. Of these victims, 60% are children under 5 years of age.
While the Peruvian government provides support for in-patient acute burn treatment, it does not cover rehabilitation. The scarring from severe scalding burns requires specialized rehabilitation and follow up until the child is fully grown. It is this rehabilitation that ANIQUEM offers. Young burn survivors will have scar tissue that can cause enormous problems for the growing child – problems that they are ill equipped to deal with.
Treatment can make the difference between a useful and happy member of society and a physically and emotionally crippled one. Today ANIQUEM has more than 3000 out-patients, and a staff that includes the doctors, physiotherapist, occupational therapists, 2 CAFA social workers, a psychologist, a specialist in pressure garments, and office staff.
Accidents can cause several types of burns. First degree burns are painful, but only affect the outer layer of skin and heal well. Second degree burns affect both the outer and inner layer of skin, causing pain, swelling and blistering. Both of these kinds of burns can be treated and require little to no rehabilitation.
Third degree burns damage all layers of the skin. They are extremely dangerous in the short term and cause significant nerve damage, scarring, and a host of other issue in the long term. Skin grafts and rehabilitation are typically required.
When the skin is destroyed in this way, normal living skin is replaced by scar tissue. This scar tissue doesn't move or stretch like normal skin, causing contractures that limit mobility and affect underlying muscle tissue. It can affect tendons, pull joints out of position, and inhibit limb growth in children. For children surviving these serious burns, normal life means disability, isolation, loneliness and despair. The physical and mental scarring that can occur is heartbreaking.
For Peruvian children whose parents cannot access private medical care, there is very little rehabilitation available.