With 27,027 deaths, every fifth fire- related death in the world in 2017 took place in India. Around 9 million fire incidents and 1.2 lakh deaths were recorded across the globe that year. Of these incidents, India recorded 1.6 million fires and 27,027 deaths, according to a 195- nation analysis by Global Diseases Burden published in The BMJ Injury Prevention journal recently.

India, along with seven countries, including Pakistan, accounted for over half the deaths due to fires.The study said kids under five and adults above 60 are the biggest fire victims — a trend seen in urban India as well.


India recorded 1.6m fires and 27,027 deaths, according to a 195-nation analysis by Global Diseases Burden published recently.

Around 9m fire incidents and 1.2 lakh deaths were recorded across globe that year 

Deaths in India were almost 2.5 times that of China, where 10,836 people died in fires in 2017

Inadequate healthcare facilities add to fire deaths

Earlier, women made up for 80% of the fire victims in Mumbai, but now we have started seeing more senior citizens and children in burn wards," divulged Dr S Keswani of Airoli Burns Centre in Navi Mumbai. This "epidemiological shift" is mainly due to societal changes such as increased longevity and financial independence among women."Women have jobs, meaning children are either taken care of by elderly at home or at a creche," he said.The study identified gender violence as a cause for the high death rate in India; it also cited a study from Karnataka that showed synthetic saris worn by women was a cause.

Inadequate healthcare facilities in India ag to deaths due to fires.

"Burns management needs manpower.

Six people are needed each time a burns patient has his or her bandages changed. But our public hospitals, where most victims go for treatment, have poor doctor/nurse-patient ratio," added Dr Keswani. The private sector rarely offers burns treatment as it needs heavy investment but doesn't earn enough.In Mumbai, only two private hospitals have burns wards, but every public hospital has to treat burns even though only a handful have adequate facilities.

A public hospital doctor said, "An ICU stay in the private sector could cost Rs 25,000- 50,000.Burns patients need to stay in hospital for a long time, but the bill could be well over Rs 18 lakh a month. How many Indians can really afford that?" However, deaths due to fire, heat and hot substances have registered a drop in most countries, added the study.In India, deaths decreased by around 30% between 1990 and 2017.

"Prevention should be the first priority in reducing intolerable number of injuries and deaths," said Dr Spencer James, senior author of the study at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at University of Washington School of Medicine.

Source:  Malathy lyer , Senior Editor (Health) at The Times of India