The World Health Organization recently reported that 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. National Capital Delhi also figures in the list of 13. The environmental exposure to increasing air pollutants in Delhi is so immensely affecting the health that more than one-third of Delhi population is exposed to some kind of respiratory problems and are at higher risks of cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and mortality.
According to a TGI Survey, 34 % (approx 5 million) of Delhi people are suffering respiratory problems including Asthma, Bronchitis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. However, instead of the deleterious effects of air pollution and increased pollution exposure, there is very less awareness in regards with the vulnerable population to the effects of air pollution and Acute and chronic consequences of this on their respiratory system.
In view of increased concern levels of the symptoms such as breathlessness, impending lung condition and the rising number of asthma cases in Delhi, ‘breathefree’ commences a movement ‘saveyourlungsdilli’ to protect against the potentially harmful effects on health by air pollutants and to outspread awareness about the ascending respiratory issues. ‘breathefree’ also launches first of its kind helpline +91-8080622000 to provide round-the-clock free support service to people suffering from respiratory illness and who are vulnerable to breathing problems.‘breathefree’ aims to reach out to millions suffering from asthma and their families.
Talking to reporters, Dr. Jaideep Gogtay, Chief Medical Officer, Cipla said, “ The initiative will work to create awareness for respiratory problems and a simple process of treatment for it. Via ‘breathefree’ helpline our team will reach the caller, check his or her health status and ensure that the person gets the required treatment at the right time and follow-up. The missed call campaign will reflect a proactive approach and will create a seamless experience for people using the helpline”.
Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Member Steering Committee Air Pollution and Health, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare-Government of India and Director at Chest Research Foundation said, “Pollutants can cause lung damage due to oxidative stress by acting directly on the production of free reactive oxygen species (ROS), inducing epithelial cell inflammation, airway hyperactivity and lung injury. They reduce the levels of antioxidants in the lungs and therefore make it more vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.”
“In most situations, it is difficult to avoid exposure to air pollution; hence reducing the risk is an important step, by knowing the Air Quality Index (AQI) levels and avoiding outdoor activities when it is very high. We suggest people to get lung function checked along with routine health check-up to monitor the impact of pollutants on lung health” he added.
Dr. Vikram Jaggi, Medical Director at Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre, Delhi said, “Inhalation of the air pollutants into the respiratory tract makes it the prime target for harmful effects. Pollutants can cause lung damage due to oxidative stress by impacting directly on the production of free reactive oxygen species, inducing airway hyperactivity and lung injury.”