In the West, burn patients are served by excellent transportation systems, well-equipped tertiary hospitals, and the most sophisticated technology money can buy. It was therefore with a mixture of awe and excitement that I attended the First Afro-Asian Conference on Burns, held in Bombay, India, in January 1981: awe, because in India the worst health problems are poor nutrition, high infant mortality, and infectious disease, and I wondered how they had the energy to address the burn problem, which, by comparison, must be esoteric; excitement, because I felt sure there would be much to learn and bring back that was new.
These few comments will be restricted to India, because there I had an opportunity to observe conditions firsthand. With a population of 640 million, India is the largest democratic country in the world, having inherited a British parliamentary system in 1947. The country is largely agricultural, with a few