Bhubaneswar, 7th April, 2023: Inter State Doctors and Civil Society Organizations came together at a webinar organized by Switch On Foundation, to create awareness amongst common citizens about the deteriorating health condition due to the increasing air pollution, and identify solutions to lead a healthy lifestyle. The webinar highlighted the negative impacts of inequities on health and well-being, social and economic development, and the advantages of improving health for all through better and more equitable health services in Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. A panel discussion followed by a training session was also organized as a part of the virtual event.
India has ranked 8th in the global list of countries with the most hazardous air quality and hosts 12 of the 15 most polluted cities from Central and South Asia’ (The 2022 World Air Quality Report). It has been observed over the years that though air pollution affects all but some people are more susceptible than others like children, older people, pregnant women, and people with pre existing heart and lung disease.
The virtual event was attended by distinguished experts like Pulomonologists, Oncologists and pediatricians from West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand who were highlighting the effect of air pollution on the vulnerable section of society. Leading organizations volunteered to join the training program conducted by distinguished doctors to understand the current situation of the impact of air Pollution on health.
Dr. Mamata Panda, Pediatrician from CARE Hospitals, Bhubaneswar attending the webinar stated, “The theme for World Health day ‘Health for All’ means attainment of good health by all people of a country which is not only physical but also mental and social wellbeing. The impact of air pollution on vulnerable groups especially infants and children is multifold. The particulate matter present in the air can be inhaled resulting in serious diseases like asthma, lung cancer, autism, low birth weight, stroke, heart disease, alzheimer, retinopathy and even psychological issues.”
The webinar was registered and viewed by a large number of people including civil society organizations, youth groups, health professionals, media, and other stakeholders. Some of the NGO’s attending the webinar from Odisha were Ruchika Social Service Organization, Adruta Children’s Home, Care and Share Foundation, Utkal Sevak Samaj, Harsha Trust and Society for Children.
Dr Arpita Subhadarshini, Medical officer incharge, UPHC, Bhubaneswar said, “The value of AQI in the state falls under an unhealthy category for sensitive groups. An alarming level of suspended particulate matter is in the air which can lead to serious aggravation of heart and lung diseases in the vulnerable groups.”
Concluding the whole event, Vinay Jaju, Managing director of SwitchON Foundation said, “Air Pollution is the biggest threat to the health of humans, our survey also shows people are very concerned about air pollution. That is why on this global health day, we have connected leading doctors and ngos to make public aware of the dangerous health effects due to the rise of pollutants and collectively take urgent action along with government agencies.”
As per the 2022 World Air Quality Report released by IQAir, India ranks 8th most polluted country in the world. As per the report the average PM2.5 level in India in 2022 was 53.3pg/m3 which exceeds the WHO PM2.5 guideline by over 10 times.
SwitchON Foundation also revealed a study at the webinar, based on a public perception study of human health in Odisha. The idea was to get a better understanding about the awareness and sensitivity of people regarding air pollution in Odisha.
The study found that a majority of respondents i.e 63% of residents of Odisha said industries are the major pollution-causing factor, followed by vehicular emissions. Almost 55% of the respondents of Odisha listed coal power plants and mining to be as responsible factors for air pollution.
The study revealed that both males and females across Odisha have considered air pollution to be a threat to human health. People perceive the rising number of vehicles on the roads to be the primary cause of air pollution. During the survey, they expressed their opinion of the active promotion of cycling, walking, carpooling, and shifting to electric vehicles as measures to control air pollution.