A steady rise in air pollution levels has spiked respiratory problems among children, a preliminary patient data from a leading children hospital and other medical facilities in Kathmandu Valley show.
Children with throat infection, asthma and other ailments have been brought to hospital in an increasing frequency, say doctors at Kanti Children’s Hospital and other clinics. Besides, children who had long been under medication for asthma and other respiratory conditions have seen further exacerbation in their condition.
While the government has no proper monitoring stations for measuring pollution, recent reports by international organisations have
placed Kathmandu among the worst polluted cities. According to a World Health Organisation report released on May 12 Kathmandu’s pollution is above the international limits.
Kathmandu was ranked the third most polluted city in the world in the latest pollution index published by Serbia-based research website Numbeo.com, Nepal’s Capital city sits in the third position of the pollution ranking with a pollution index of 96.66.
While Kanti does not have central registration system for out-patient department, preliminary data made available by doctors looking after such cases suggest that around 150 children, half of them from out-patient-department, have respiratory problems. This is a nearly two fold increase, according to doctors.
Many of the children would come with symptoms of wheezing, persistent cough and fever, said Dr Krishna Poudel, paediatrician at Kanti Hospital. More than 30 patients visit Asthma Clinic that the hospitals runs on Mondays and Thursdays. “The actual number could be much higher as more patients visit the hospital’s OPD,” said Dr Ganesh Gurung, who looks after the clinic. “The condition of children who were under medication for asthma has also exacerbated,” he warned, citing an example of a 12-year-old boy from Kalanki who had visited the OPD a week ago.
The condition of the boy, who has been under treatment for asthma for the last five years, has worsened recently, Dr Gurung observed. He blames on the tendency among many parents to not use inhaler for their children diagnosed with asthma for the deterioration in the condition of patients.
Dr Neelam Adhikari, senior paediatrician and visiting professor at the Patan Academy of Health Sciences, said half of the children coming to her clinic have respiratory problems. “The dust particles and smoke and smog is making the hard for children,” said Dr Adhikari.
While children remain vulnerable to many infections, high-exposure to dust particles and other particulate matters (PM) make their condition worse.
A report of the Nepal Health Research Council states that PM 2.5 was measured in 28 microgram per cubic metre, for which the national standard is 20 microgram per cubic metre.
The PM 2.5 dirt particles which have potential to enter directly into the lungs, are in high concentration in the air during mornings and evenings. The report says that going out for a stroll in the morning might not be healthy and “it remains particularly vulnerable to children whose schools resume from early morning”.
Doctors suggest frequent hand-washing, use of masks and seeing paediatrician immediately after any respiratory problems will help improve the condition of patients.
Source: The Kathmandu post