Tygerberg Burns Chief wins global award

Chris Bateman


Tygerberg Hospital’s Burns Unit chief, Dr Elbie van der Merwe, one of the country’s most holistic and innovative burns specialists, has received international recognition for her ground-breaking local work in burns prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
She has won the Euro-Mediterranean Council for Burns and Fire Disasters’ G Whittaker International Burns Prize, and will receive the prestigious award next month (September) in Palermo, Italy. Van der Merwe (64) was the driving force behind legislation that forced the upgrading and redesign of the ubiquitous paraffin stove responsible for thousands of shack-fire deaths, injuries and hardship in the more poverty-stricken sections of townships. She lobbied parliament for years, presenting data and statistics from her research that finally led to a 2007 law that enforces a strict set of standards on paraffin stove manufacture country-wide. Her work has been adopted globally by the World Health Organization (WHO) and local follow-up studies have already confirmed a decreasing incidence of burn injury from paraffin stoves.

Author's affiliations

Chris Bateman, HMPG

Full Text



burns prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, G Whittaker International Burns Prize

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(8):500, 502.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-07-03
Date published: 2011-07-25

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