By Brenda Kiven
Households in Cameroon have been advised to use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), over charcoal and firewood, in order to avoid devastating effects of indoor air pollution.
The call was made on Thursday at the University of Douala, during a symposium organised by the Faculty of Medecine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, on the effects of Air Pollution on Human Health, a project of Clean Air Africa, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, England.
Professor Bertrand Mbatchou from the University of Douala, practicing at the Douala General Hospital along with his team, are currently analysing data on the aforementioned topic, revealed that many stand a chance of getting respiratory infections, heart diseases and lung cancer if they are exposed to it.
“What we have found concerning air pollution is that when you use LPG, the level of air pollution is reduced and very close to the level recommended by WHO. On the other hand, when we compare the level of air pollution, we noted that in households where charcoal or wood are used, the level of air pollution were like two to four times than households using LPG.”, stated the medic.
Thanks to the project Clean Air Africa which is implemented in Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya, over 200 students in the Faculty in attendance, were sensitized on the topic and told to include diagnoses on exposure to quality air when working with patients.
Air pollution in general, kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. Outdoor air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
As for outdoor pollution, major sources include modes of transport, agriculture, waste burning.
“With the collaboration of the University of Liverpool, our objective is to look at the main cooking tools used in households because some are not good for our health like wood, charcoal or smoke. There are some of them who are said to be clean fuel like petroleum LPG and electricity.” Explained Professor Mbatchou.
While conducting the study, Prof. Mbatchou said many users complained on the cost and inaccessibility of LPGs, reason why they continue inhaling bad air by using charcoal or firewood.
“If we need to tackle this problem of air pollution, we need to understand what obstacles are preventing households from using clean fuel. The second aspect is to show local evidence that being exposed to high level of air pollution, you can have a deterioration of your respiratory health or your cardiovascular health. We are aiming at strengthening the capacity of medical doctors, students and sensitive the population so that they are aware of air pollution”, noted the researcher.
The focus on health professionals according to Professor Mbatchou, is timely because this topic is not vastly treated in schools. To him, these future health practitioners attending the symposium, are the ones receiving patients in hospitals and when they receive these patients, they should ensure they ask questions to find out if these patients are highly exposed to pollutants.
Professor Yacoube Mapoure, Head of Department of Clinical Sciences, welcomed participants at the symposium stating it is an opportunity to encourage more aspiring students in the Faculty to dive into research work that will improve public health. He appreciated the Faculty head for approving such rich exchanges in the field which will go a long way to help the society, the students and the University as a whole.
“We expect students and our assistants to participate and put their know-how in gathering maximum knowledge and imagine opportunities to research on other topics in the Faculty, focusing on our environment and wellbeing of patients”, said Prof. Mapoure.
Other presentations came from experts such as Dr Mbele Onana Charles, Atongmo Humphrey, PR Kamdem Felicité, and Achiri Ndikum Elvis.
(c) The Guardian Post, 2022