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KEM unit studies how biomass fuels affect health

With half a million women and children dying due to indoor air pollution in the country,scientists at KEM Hospital research centre’s Vadu rural health programme and Chest Research Foundation have come together to study how biomass fuels used in rural households affect respiratory health.

Written by Express News Service |
March 21, 2012 3:57:31 am

With half a million women and children dying due to indoor air pollution in the country,scientists at KEM Hospital research centre’s Vadu rural health programme and Chest Research Foundation have come together to study how biomass fuels used in rural households affect respiratory health.

Can local cooking stoves be used in reducing the smoke from chullahs is one of the interventions being proposed at the Indoor Air Pollution at Chest Research Foundation workshop. International Network for the continuous Demographic Evaluation of Populations and their Health (INDEPTH) Network and Swiss tropical are other institutions collaborating for this workshop.

INDEPTH is a network of 42 demographic and health surveillance system (HDSS) sites from 19 countries in Africa,Asia and Oceania that collectively monitor 2,200,000 people at household-level. Prof. Don De Savigny,Dr. Daniel Maeusezahl (Swiss Tropical Institute,Basel,Switzerland),Dr. Sundeep Salvi (CRF) and Dr. Ajay Ojha spoke at the workshop.

Dr. Sanjay Juvekar,study coordinator,VRHP said they wanted to establish the effects of reduction of indoor air pollution from biomass combustion (wood,dung,crop residues) on priority health outcomes (acute and chronic respiratory illness,cardiovascular disease and mortality in children and adults) in Africa and Asia.

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The network aims at harnessing the output of the HDSS sites to provide policy makers with a better understanding of population and health challenges. Exposure to smoke from combustion of crude biomass fuels in low income countries is a neglected risk factor for both pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).

Dr Sundeep Salvi,director,CRF,said effective interventions are possible but are not promoted in public health policy because of the lack of evidence of the effects of reductions in indoor smoke exposure on pregnancy outcomes,on respiratory,cardiovascular health and diabetes. This evidence can be provided through large scale household intervention trials. Until now,such trials have not been affordable because of their size and the costs of monitoring health status in large populations,says Rutuja Patil,research assistant at VRHP.

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