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(Conference Report) Nigerian Thoracic Society and the challenges of household air pollution

By Dennis Udoma, Uyo

The recently concluded Annual General and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS), in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, was an eye opener in many ways.

To participants, it was educative and revealing, following presentations made by the various speakers which were targeted at proffering solutions to some of the health sector’s deadliest challenges in Nigeria.

Also, the conference provided opportunity for members of the Society to appraise their performance and achievements and exchange/disseminate scientific ideas and research work among medical and allied professionals.

The two day conference explored ways of reducing morbidity and mortality rates in respiratory disorders and life threatening acute and chronic illnesses like asthma.

One of the ways to overcome achieve this, the President of the NTS, Professor Etete Peters earlier in his address suggested, is government funding of the use of cooking gas and kerosene as alternative to the use of fire wood, to reduce the effect of household air pollution in Nigeria.

According to him, “More than 90 per cent of rural dwellers mainly depend on fire wood for cooking both for family consumption and other social occasions.”

The fast food centers, he maintained, also rely on the use of fire wood in some aspects of preparation to reduce the cost of production, while the health of workers in these set ups are not considered a priority over profit maximization.

Other ways through which people can easily be affected by household air pollution are through local processing of palm oil and cassava especially, in the southern part of Nigeria where majority of people engage in these businesses as primary means of livelihood.

Although this has been the age long practice particularly in typical African settings but, the subsistence producers are not often aware of the attendant health challenges.

Indeed, it is often cynically said that something must kill a man. hence and so needless whatever happens because, even the much talk about cooking gas and kerosene are not likely to be affordable to Nigerians.

Coupled with the persistent energy crisis in the country presently, how many of the rural dwellers can afford kerosene talk less of gas? A survey during the period under review reveals that, a liter of kerosene is sold at N150 while 7kg of gas goes for N4000 respectively.

Prof. Peters therefore suggested that, to reduce the threat of lungs-related diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis etc, there was need for federal, state and local governments to consider alternative funding of cooking gas and kerosene to complement the previous administrations effort on mass safe cooking stoves.

NTS he said was committed to researches and other programmes aimed at identifying solutions to these menaces and expressed the hope that, resolutions at the end of the conference would help governments to mitigate the effect of household air pollution in Nigeria.

“All these are aimed at advancing education of physicians and other health professionals; support the development of research in respiratory medicine through the delivery of high quality health care in Nigeria.”

Guest speaker, Prof. Abdullahi Abba blamed the increase in household air pollution to the cheapness of high pollutants like firewood and, expressed worry that the menace has continued to increase in Africa and India while it has been on the decrease in China.

Abba however accredited about 50 percent of deaths among children in developing countries to indoor and outdoor pollution thereby causing at least, between one million to two million deaths annually and called for attitudinal change.

He appealed for a review in the building’s design of houses as smaller cooking spaces often result in increased indoor pollution hence increase in respiratory disorders.

Chairman of the occasion and Provost of College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo, Prof. Memfin Ekpo, warned that diseases associated with biomass remained deadly as they only manifest in later stages of life. Ekpo urged the conference to redouble effort in correcting these ills.

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong applauded the NTS for its contributions to patients care in the country and called on the conference to help create awareness on respiratory medicine, prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases.

He said, with education and patient care, the society would be able to proffer solutions to reducing morbidity and m
By Dennis Udoma, Uyo

The recently concluded Annual General and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS), in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, was an eye opener in many ways.

To participants, it was educative and revealing, following presentations made by the various speakers which were targeted at proffering solutions to some of the health sector’s deadliest challenges in Nigeria.

Also, the conference provided opportunity for members of the Society to appraise their performance and achievements and exchange/disseminate scientific ideas and research work among medical and allied professionals.

The two day conference explored ways of reducing morbidity and mortality rates in respiratory disorders and life threatening acute and chronic illnesses like asthma.

One of the ways to overcome achieve this, the President of the NTS, Professor Etete Peters earlier in his address suggested, is government funding of the use of cooking gas and kerosene as alternative to the use of fire wood, to reduce the effect of household air pollution in Nigeria.

According to him, “More than 90 per cent of rural dwellers mainly depend on fire wood for cooking both for family consumption and other social occasions.”

The fast food centers, he maintained, also rely on the use of fire wood in some aspects of preparation to reduce the cost of production, while the health of workers in these set ups are not considered a priority over profit maximization.

Other ways through which people can easily be affected by household air pollution are through local processing of palm oil and cassava especially, in the southern part of Nigeria where majority of people engage in these businesses as primary means of livelihood.

Although this has been the age long practice particularly in typical African settings but, the subsistence producers are not often aware of the attendant health challenges.

Indeed, it is often cynically said that something must kill a man. hence and so needless whatever happens because, even the much talk about cooking gas and kerosene are not likely to be affordable to Nigerians.

Coupled with the persistent energy crisis in the country presently, how many of the rural dwellers can afford kerosene talk less of gas? A survey during the period under review reveals that, a liter of kerosene is sold at N150 while 7kg of gas goes for N4000 respectively.

Prof. Peters therefore suggested that, to reduce the threat of lungs-related diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis etc, there was need for federal, state and local governments to consider alternative funding of cooking gas and kerosene to complement the previous administrations effort on mass safe cooking stoves.

NTS he said was committed to researches and other programmes aimed at identifying solutions to these menaces and expressed the hope that, resolutions at the end of the conference would help governments to mitigate the effect of household air pollution in Nigeria.

“All these are aimed at advancing education of physicians and other health professionals; support the development of research in respiratory medicine through the delivery of high quality health care in Nigeria.”

Guest speaker, Prof. Abdullahi Abba blamed the increase in household air pollution to the cheapness of high pollutants like firewood and, expressed worry that the menace has continued to increase in Africa and India while it has been on the decrease in China.

Abba however accredited about 50 percent of deaths among children in developing countries to indoor and outdoor pollution thereby causing at least, between one million to two million deaths annually and called for attitudinal change.

He appealed for a review in the building’s design of houses as smaller cooking spaces often result in increased indoor pollution hence increase in respiratory disorders.

Chairman of the occasion and Provost of College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo, Prof. Memfin Ekpo, warned that diseases associated with biomass remained deadly as they only manifest in later stages of life. Ekpo urged the conference to redouble effort in correcting these ills.

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong applauded the NTS for its contributions to patients care in the country and called on the conference to help create awareness on respiratory medicine, prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases.

He said, with education and patient care, the society would be able to proffer solutions to reducing morbidity and mortality rates from respiratory disorders in the country.

Dr. Ukpong thanked the organizers for encouraging and stimulating basic research and clinical investigations in the field of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery adding that scientific forum like this provides opportunity for exchange and dissemination of ideas.

Participants for this year’s general and scientific conference were drawn from 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

ortality rates from respiratory disorders in the country.

Dr. Ukpong thanked the organizers for encouraging and stimulating basic research and clinical investigations in the field of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery adding that scientific forum like this provides opportunity for exchange and dissemination of ideas.

Participants for this year’s general and scientific conference were drawn from 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

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