J&K among 4 states in India with ‘alarming prevalence’ of respiratory diseases: Study

‘Growing air pollution, smoking, burning of fuels among reasons’

ZEHRU NISSA
Srinagar, Publish Date: Sep 13 2018 12:44AM | Updated Date: Sep 13 2018 2:44AM
J&K among 4 states in India with ‘alarming prevalence’ of respiratory diseases: StudyRepresentational Pic

A report in a prestigious international medical journal has revealed growing prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in J&K, which has pushed it among the top four states in India in terms of the respiratory disease.

In J&K, over 4750 people per lakh population suffer from COPD. The number is much higher given the socio-demographic index (SDI) of the state, reveals the report titled “burden of chronic respiratory diseases and their heterogeneity across the states of India: the global burden of disease study 1990–2016”. The report was published on Wednesday in Lancet, the most reputed international medical research journal.

The other states with large prevalence of COPD are Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and India’s capital territory of Delhi. The prevalence of COPD in all these states is twice as much in most other states.

COPD is a term used to describe an ambit of respiratory diseases that cause shortness of breath. It is the second individual leading cause of death in India as per the data.

The researchers attribute respiratory disease in J&K to ambient air pollution and “staggering” rate of smoking. 

Although in most other states other risk factors such as household air pollution, occupational particulate matter and second hand smoke are also significant, in J&K, these factors are not main contributors, thus putting focus on tobacco use and air pollution.

Dr Parvaiz A Koul, head of internal and pulmonary medicine at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and only contributor to the study from J&K, said the state government needs to work rigorously towards bringing the pollution rate down and better management of those affected.

“While we have no definite etiology (COPD), smoking, use of biomass fuels, ambient air pollution and possibly Kangri use are playing a role,” he said.

He said deteriorating quality of air in Kashmir in winter was a major concern. “In winters air quality here has been reported to be worse than that of Delhi, mainly due to burning of wood, kerosene in homes, charcoal in Kangris,” he said.

He said a significant change would be possible if there is reduction in smoking and improvement in air quality of Kashmir.

The latest study has been conducted by Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, USA and it has authorship from credible investigators across countries.

The SKIMS is the only institute in J&K that has contributed to data collection, analysis and compilation. Dr Koul is among the authors of this study that sheds light on burden of respiratory diseases state-wise and a comparison over 25 years.

The study concludes that there is “marked heterogeneity between the states of India in this burden and the associated risks”.

It highlights the need for individual states to adopt different policy approaches according to the trajectory of the disease burden they are facing. “The almost negligible large-scale effort to address major chronic respiratory diseases at the population level in India must be improved rapidly to reduce the current disproportionately high health loss from these diseases across India,” the study underlines.

In May this year a study by World Health Organization (WHO) rated Srinagar city as one of the most polluted cities in the world. As per the WHO findings Srinagar figured at serial No 10 among the 15 polluted cities with permissible limit for particulate matter (PM) going up to staggering 113 µg/m³ in 2016, the study period, against normal rates of 60 µg/m³ for 24 hours and 40 µg/m³ for any given year.

However the state Pollution Control Board, the only government agency that monitors air quality in J&K, rebutted the report saying it has never forwarded any data to the WHO. The Board also said it started monitoring the PM 2.5 only from July 2017.

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