Africa's First Burns Charity, Children of Fire, has praised the publication of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s World Report on Child Injury Prevention as a much-needed summary of the dangers that children face.
The report is being launched at the Medical Research Council (MRC) on Thursday 20th August 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, by the WHO in co-operation with the MRC and Unisa.
Representatives of Unicef and the Department of Health will also be present.
Chapter 4 (pp 78-98) on Burns is particularly compelling, as the country moves out of another winter of fires and burns injury towards a calmer Spring.
But Ms Mitta Lebaka of Children of Fire said that identifying the true scale of the burns problem throughout South Africa is impossible, with the lack of accurate record-keeping even in academic hospitals.
Burns survivor Lebaka said: "The Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town publishes regular and reliable statistics for paediatric burns from age 0 up to 12 years old. One cannot, however, get an up to date and accurate picture of injury patterns across South Africa's nine provinces."
Lebaka added: "There needs to be a government website where this data is collated and updated on a month-by-month basis. Only if we know with certainty what the prime causes of injury are, can we prevent them."
Children of Fire also called for consistency in the definition of a child.
Some hospitals put 13 year olds into adult wards. Some hospitals decide that they are adult when they are 16 years old. The law only classifies them as adult at the age of 18.
Lebaka said: "Happy patients heal better. Putting a teenager in an adult ward generally makes them unhappy, so rather let them remain children until the age of majority."
Children of Fire recommends:
SABS standards for manufacturing safer matches should be legally enforced.
Candle manufacturers should proactively promote safer candle holders.
The SA Department of Justice and the SA Reserve Bank's should fast-track the legal dispute over exporting intellectual capital and the alleged theft of the patent for the Parasafe stove.
Gel fuels and stoves should be subjected to compulsory and rigorous safety testing, before being sold.
The same standards over the toxicity and flammability of furnishing materials as are applied in Europe, should also be applied in Africa.
Waste collection should be carried out more frequently in squatter camps to reduce the potential fire load.
Fire fighting water tanks should be distributed throughout squatter camps and maintained by the fire brigade at municipality cost.
Fire safety and burns prevention should be taught in all public and private schools in grades 1, 3, 5 and 8.
Parents of children aged less than 12 years old, who leave them alone, should be charged with negligence.
National government should increase affordable child care provision to allow parents to work in the knowledge that their children are safe.