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Empowering Communities to Reduce Household Air Pollution

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Empowering Communities to Reduce Household Air Pollution

In Africa, household air pollution is among the main contributors to the burden of disease, accounting for 18% of all deaths.

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 26, 2021 / APO Group / –

The journey towards realizing universal access to modern cooking methods received a boost on Friday after the launch of the first edition of a training manual for facilitators on air pollution in homes.

The 136-page document on the theme “Air Pollution in Homes: A Silent Threat to Health and the Environment. Let’s act together to save lives, ” was launched by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and development partners. The document describes procedures to guide communities and community health personnel in the prevention and control of indoor air pollutants responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer.

Acting Director General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth, in his speech read by the head of the primary care department, Dr. Salim Hussein, said that “exposure to air pollution is responsible for a staggering number of diseases and preventable deaths worldwide, making it the greatest threat to environmental health. “

The guide’s release comes in the wake of a global health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis with most households forced to stay indoors due to movement restrictions and closures.

“It is worth noting that air pollution exacerbates the severity of illness and deaths from COVID-19 and is the leading risk factor for death from pneumonia in all age groups.” The CEO explained.

“In Africa, household air pollution is among the main contributors to the burden of disease, accounting for 18% of all deaths,” he added.

It is estimated that around 3 billion of the world’s poorest people still depend on solid fuels such as wood, animal manure, charcoal, crop waste, and coal burned in inefficient and highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating. This has resulted in around 4 million premature deaths annually among children and adults from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

“99% of the people here have been affected by pollution in one way or another, it could be in the form of fuel, lighting or smoking. Most of us have been in a home where there was smoke. Said the acting head of the public health department of the Ministry of Health, Colonel Susan Mutua. “From now on we want to protect our children and also our elders from this type of contamination. The launch of this guide is therefore good news. “Added col. Mutua.

In addition, the widespread use of kerosene stoves and lamps causes death and serious injury from scalds, burns, and poisonings. Although Kenya has made significant progress in recent decades, solid biomass remains the main cooking fuel used in the country. More than 90% of the rural population and around 75% of all Kenyan households still cook with wood or charcoal. Only about 20% of all households use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as their main cooking fuel. The number of electric stoves is extremely low, with around 3% of all households having an electric appliance.

Faith Wandera, Senior Deputy Director for Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy, told the forum that “Kenya committed to achieving universal access to modern kitchen solutions by 2028, during the 2019 Global Clean Kitchen Forum in Nairobi.” He added that, “The launch of the Home Air Pollution Training Manual is a major step towards strengthening the capacity of community members and associated health workforce to contribute to efforts to reduce adverse impact. and environmental from polluting household energy forms such as firewood, coal and kerosene. “

The issue of access to clean cooking solutions was also a topic of discussion with calls for affordable solutions to reduce the use of harmful energy sources. How do we ensure that this fuel reaches our people in an affordable way? Asked Daniel Wanjohi, a board member of the Kenya Clean Kitchen Association. “The private sector is also helpful, it is very critical that we make sure we incorporate them and, above all, make sure that the political environment is conducive to access to clean kitchen solutions,” he added.

Exposure to household air pollution is among the top ten risk factors for death in Kenya. Annual deaths attributable to household air pollution in Kenya according to 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) estimates were 15,140, ​​while the Ministry in 2020 estimated that 23,000 Kenyans died.

Following the launch of the manual, health workers and community health volunteers will receive a three-day training on the use of the manual. The three-day training exercise will be rolled out in phases starting with 17 selected counties before rolling out to the remaining 30 counties. The 17 counties prioritized in the first phase include Homabay, Migori, Kisii, Siaya, Busia, Kisumu, Kakamega, Vihiga, Nyamira, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Transnzoia, Westpokot, Machakos, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, and Kwale.

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