LUMBINI: Nexus Institute of Research and Innovation (NIRI) and the European Lung Foundation held 'Lung Health Awareness Programme' at Khudabagar Adarsha College in Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality, in Rupandei district, on January 24. The event included a session and a lung health test for attendees.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that lung disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide, causing 3.23 million deaths in 2019. Almost 90% of deaths in those under 70 occur in low- and middle-income countries.
A 2019 survey in Nepal revealed that the country had the highest death rates from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), at 182.5 per 100,000 people. A study found that COPD prevalence varied from 6.2% to 16.2% across different provinces in Nepal. Over three million people have respiratory problems, but only 3% of those with lung diseases receive proper treatment. The impact of COPD in Nepal affects people's well-being and burdens healthcare systems.
The day was observed at Khudabagar Adarsha College to raise awareness of lung diseases, their risks and symptoms, and to encourage local actions to prevent lung disease.
Local representatives, municipality and ward members, provincial government representatives, health institutions, members of various political parties, teachers, child clubs, students, parents, and other stakeholders participated in the programme and pledged to support a campaign for healthy lungs.
Dr Om Prakash Kurmi, Director of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at NIRI and Principal Investigator of the Nepal Family Cohort Study (NeFCoS), discussed the global impact and public health actions for preventing lung diseases. He highlighted the importance of stakeholder roles in prevention. Dr Kurmi briefed about NeFCoS, a long-term family cohort study in Nepal that aims to study the factors of various health outcomes, especially lung health, and their causes in children and adults. He mentioned that controlling environmental and occupational pollution, quitting smoking, regular exercise, and a balanced diet are crucial to reducing lung diseases.
Suraj Parajuli, an administrative officer and research fellow at NIRI Nepal, highlighted the need for lung health disease prevention with multisectoral partnerships. He stated that raising awareness in the community and appealing to local authorities to take steps for lung disease prevention were the main goals of the programme. He praised the commitment of local representatives and community leaders to lung health promotion and thanked the school management.
Youth leaders from Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality asked stakeholders to address this problem promptly. They expressed their readiness to cooperate to ensure no more youth die from lung problems.
Social worker Ram Yadav mentioned that women were exposed to household smoke from biomass and had symptoms of lung problems. Yadav urged the authorities to address this issue and create an environment suitable for using electric cooking stoves.
Kalpana Harijung, Deputy Mayor of Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality, said that Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality was the first in Nepal to start NeFCoS and organise a lung health awareness programme. She expressed hope that local authorities in Lumbini and nearby areas would address the issue, with plans to work with government agencies in the future. She confirmed the municipality's full support for NeFCoS and their commitment to creating policies based on this health research. They also plan to develop a Lung Health Strategy for the local level.
Former member of the Lumbini Province Assembly, Fakhruddhin Khan, emphasized the importance of relevant policies, multisectoral partnerships, and public awareness to prevent and control lung health problems in Nepal.
Prof Paramjit Gill, Chief of the ceremony from the University of Warwick, UK, expressed his gratitude to the organiser and participants of the programme. He highlighted the significance of lung health and its causes. He called for research in lower-income countries for policy making and timely intervention in health issues.
Rambali Yadav, Chair of the programme and Chief of Khudabagar Adarsha College, stated that students were the ambassadors to bring this issue to communities. He also pledged to conduct similar health awareness programmes through colleges.
The programme concluded with municipality representatives, ward chairpersons, teachers, students, and parents signing the programme banner, demonstrating their commitment to reducing environmental/work-related pollution.
NIRI acknowledged the field researchers of the Lumbini site by presenting a letter of appreciation to all field researchers.