Arts and Entertainment

Street drama against air pollution

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Dec 31, 2017-

On Saturday, a man in maroon hoodie was coughing loudly right in the middle of Koteshwor chowk. Nearby the traffic island, his body was shaking more violently with each passing cough. Another person supported the man should he trip off. Yet, he fell down on this busy road stretch and yelled for help. Subsequently, two doctors, one in apron and another in black jacket, approached the person. The doctor in apron put his stethoscope on the chest and the back of the patient. “This air pollution is affecting us all. It is killing us,” the doctor muttered. In the meantime, the patient thanked the doctor for attending him on time. “Hey, Government! Do we have to pay for every breath  of fresh air now?” the patient asked loudly.

This was not a real incident but a part of a short street drama, organised by an initiative of doctors, activists, and commoners to “press the government to implement stringent policies to curb air pollution.” One of the doctors who attended the protest is Dr Arjun Karki, reputed chest physician, currently practicing in Grande International Hospital, Tokha. “Many people are affected from lungs and heart diseases due to pollution,” Dr Karki said at the end of the show. “Until and unless the government acts on air pollution, the health of Nepalis will be in peril.”

One of the participants in the event was Samridhi Rana. “We are all affected. I am here to be part of the solution, not part of the pollution,” said Rana.

According to a report published by World Health Organisation, air pollution causes over 9,000 deaths every year, with coronary artery disease and stroke each killing more than 3,000 people in Nepal in 2012. The analysis of 103 countries found that 36 people out of every 100,000 in Nepal die from outdoor air pollution leading to heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke.

Anecdotal evidences from physicians also suggest that there is a surge of patients with issues related to lungs and heart. Deepak Sapkota, an activist, said they will run similar events for over two weeks in many parts of Kathmandu to pressurise the government to act against the increasing air pollution.

A major reason for Kathmandu’s increasing air pollution is haphazard construction and lax monitoring of emission quality from the vehicles. What is more alarming is that the concentration of suspended particulate matters such as dust, smog, fog, and smoke is significantly high during the winter and leads to higher exposure to air pollution than during the rainy season.

Dr Karki said children, elderly people, and people with lung diseases are at higher risk of air pollution. He said people should take proper precautions including use of masks when travelling outdoor and see doctors if and when symptoms exacerbate. 

Published: 31-12-2017 08:22

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