Tasnim Karim : When the winter season comes, the air in the capital is very unhealthy. Residents of the city have to pay for the deterioration of air quality in Dhaka. City dwellers are getting sick due to breathing unhealthy air. The number of people suffering from respiratory diseases is increasing. Especially children and the elderly suffer more.
Experts say, due to unhealthy air, people are suffering from complex diseases like cold and cough, asthma, breathing problems and lung cancer. Due to high air pollution in winter season, these patients are increasing in hospitals.
Health experts say, if the air pollution level is high, the flow of air movement is not correct, then the concentration of pollutants in the air increases. When people inhale pollutants, their lungs are more affected. Due to the high amount of pollutants in the air in winter, the city dwellers have to face various problems due to pollution.
According to experts, long-term diseases are possible as a result of pollution. In the beginning, cold and cough, pneumonia, but at one time the lungs of the patients were affected and the liver and kidneys were damaged.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. As a result, approximately 7 million people die worldwide every year.
According to a recent study by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, the average life expectancy of Bangladeshis has decreased by 7 years due to air pollution. And the average life expectancy of the capital (Dhaka) is decreasing to 8 years. The report was prepared by calculating the extent to which the average life expectancy of the inhabitants of a country is reduced due to air pollution.
According to Air Quality Index (IQ-Air), an air quality monitoring organization, Dhaka’s air is unhealthy most of the year. But 2023 was the most polluted year in eight years. According to an analysis by the Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), Dhaka’s average air quality index score in 2023 was 171, up from 163 the previous year. The capital Dhaka was at the peak of air pollution on 10 days of January 2024.
On the surface, in the capital’s Shyamoli TB Hospital with 250 beds, patients are crowded outside the hospital. Some are coming to the hospital with asthma, shortness of breath or lung complications. A crowd of patients can be seen in front of the hospital’s asthma and COPD center. Everyone is waiting for the inhaler to be given. Asthma Center physician assistants said that most of the patients come with respiratory problems.
Preeti Akhtar was standing with her two-year-old baby in her lap. Preeti told, “The girl has been suffering from cold and cough for a month. It is also difficult to breathe. The doctor gave a chest x-ray. In addition, he asked to prevent him from going out of the house.
Abdullah Mamun, a resident of Shantinagar in the capital, was spoken to in the same hospital. He has been suffering from asthma and cough for two months. Abdullah Mamun told, “Last December, I saw Ibn Sina’s chest disease doctor.” But could not recover. Coming here today to show outdoor. The doctor gave some tests. Besides, he said that there may be an allergy to blood.
80-year-old Aminul Islam came to the TB hospital with breathing problems. He said, “I have had difficulty breathing for several years. Had pneumonia once. It is better in summer but it is more difficult in winter. Inhaler should be taken.
Doctors are giving information that the number of patients in the hospital has increased as the level of illness has increased due to air pollution along with the cold of winter. According to the data of Shyamoli TB Hospital, the number of outdoor patients was 25 thousand 422 during the four months from March to June 2023. Among them, the number of child patients was 1 thousand 97.
In the four months from September to December of the same year, the number of outdoor patients stood at 35,587. 3,148 of them were children. At the same time, 1,777 patients were admitted to this hospital, which is much more than at any other time of the year.
Shyamali TB Hospital Medical Officer Chest Disease Specialist Ahsanul Kabir told, ‘We see patients every day. When winter comes, the number of patients with cold and cough increases with difficulty in breathing. Air pollution is one of the reasons for the increase of these diseases in the winter season.
Deputy Director of TB Hospital Dr. Ayesha Akhtar told, “We have more patients here during the winter season. Patient pressure is higher from September to January as compared to summer. Up to 700 patients come to the outdoor on some days in early and mid-winter.’
About the effects of air pollution, he said, ‘Pollution causes long-term diseases. Children and the elderly are more affected. Many children get pneumonia when winter comes. Many old people also died. Now the lungs are affected due to allergies. The function of the lungs is to carry oxygen to the body. If it is not working properly, air (oxygen) cannot flow to different parts of the body. If the lungs become weak, the liver, kidneys, brain, heart are also affected. Currently children are having brain problems due to dust. Mental and physical development is hindered. As a result, studies are disturbed, he cannot sleep well.
This health expert also said, “If you are sick, you should consult a doctor.” If you have a cold, do not take the inhaler without advice. To stay away from these, you should emphasize nutritious food, regular exercise. Then the immunity will increase. Besides, this expert advises to plant a lot of trees in the city.
Professor Abu Faisal Jamil, a public health expert of the Department of Health told, “Environment and health are interrelated. This serious effect of air pollution is affecting the human body. Children and the elderly are more affected. In our country, we only talk about the number of doctors, increasing cabins, building hospitals. However, how to prevent the disease, from where the source of the disease – they do not work. How air pollution can be prevented, how people can be saved from its harmful effects – these things have to be worked on.’
Environmentalists say the harmful effects of air pollution are many. It is a threat to our good health. But there is no coordination in our city to prevent pollution. The concerned do not have proper planning. As a result, people are getting sick every year, moving towards long-term diseases.
Alamgir Kabir, general secretary of Bangladesh Environment Movement-Bapa told, “We all know that air pollution is high in Dhaka city. But many of us may not know how harmful it is to health. There is smoke from factories in the city. At the same time, the construction work of various projects increases in Dhaka city during winter. The road is blocked. The result is more pollution. Children, elderly and women are the most affected. On the one hand people are getting sick, their money is being wasted. He is suffering from long-term diseases and dying.
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