As part of the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign, organised by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Lung Foundation (ELF), a pioneering project has kicked off in Kyrgyzstan this week.
In association with the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), a national cleaner air campaign will be launched in Kyrgyzstan: the country whose lung disease death rate is higher than any other in Europe.
The research and education programme, called FRESH AIR, will be based in the highlands of Kyrgyzstan and led by Professor Talant Sooronbaev. Healthcare professionals will work with highlanders to assess the impact of air quality on their health, including the impact of smoke from both indoor biomass and tobacco. They will then develop educational and other interventions, such as improved ventilation, to address these problems.
Lung conditions cause 143.4 deaths per 100,000 people in Kyrgyzstan, which is 60% higher than the European average. The population suffers from both from chronic lung disease and also infection. There is an urgent need to address the three major risk factors for respiratory deaths in the country: the smoking pandemic, second-hand smoke and indoor biomass smoke.
Professor Sooronbaev explained: “Our people really need help. For the coldest 8 months of the year, the highlanders live in their yurts with the ventilation hole closed to retain the heat created by burning animal dung. All generations suffer from the smoke but they are unaware of the problem or what can be done to improve it”.
The project has been supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz, who pledged €25,000 and collected donations on their exhibition booths during the ERS International Congress 2014 in Munich in September.
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