SwitchON Foundation and EPIC India, Chicago form Clean Air Medical Ambassadors to report Climate Change

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Kolkata: On the occasion of National Doctors’ Day, SwitchON Foundation in partnership with EPIC India, University of Chicago, organized a panel discussion on Air Pollution and Climate Change with the leading doctors of Kolkata, according to a press release.

The panel also gave an orientation workshop for its flagship Program called Clean Air Medical Students Ambassador Program to the medical students selected across medical colleges in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha.

The initiative was supported by various Medical Associations like South Asian Medical Students Association, Association of Radiation Oncologists of India, Chest Council of India, Society of Emergency Medicines etc.

The primary objective of the Program is to develop a strong network of medical professionals who will encourage community advocacy for sustainable development with their informed knowledge of the detrimental effects of pollution on human health.

Research studies on air pollution and its adverse effects on health outcomes will cover topics like cancer, respiratory, reproductive and Maternal (including child and mother), Cardio-vascular and Community health. Other activities include conducting training, workshops, health camps, micro projects on waste and single use plastic etc. Every ambassador will get a certain stipend and logistical expenses for conducting the research.

Certificates to the participants and awards to the best performers of the program will be provided along with training and mentorship by senior doctors and experts. The medical ambassador will get networking opportunities with senior health researchers, clean air experts, government officials and policymakers, and medical practitioners.

Vinay Jaju, Managing Director, SwitchON Foundation said, “The Clean Air Medical Ambassadors Program is to create an opportunity by SwitchON Foundation for medical students to actively research on the most burning issue and provide credible information on the impact of air pollution health under the guidance of researchers, doctors and  experts.”

Ashirbad Raha, Regional Director of Communications at EPIC India said, “Air pollution is the biggest silent killer of our times. So increasing the awareness of future doctors about the health impacts of polluted air is like creating an army of informed air pollution champions.” He added, “When a doctor talks about the damage of poor air quality, citizens and policymakers both will understand the gravity of this threat even more.”

A study was launched by SwitchON Foundation on Air Pollution and Health Seeking Behaviour among Marginalized Groups-A Study from Health Camps in Purba Bardhaman. A total of 513 respondents who revealed their own experiences with health issues were analyzed. It was found that Wet cough is the most prevalent upper respiratory complaint across all age groups, followed by headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sinusitis.

Across different occupation groups, when it comes to upper respiratory symptoms, construction workers reported to have the highest rates of symptoms of wet cough and headache (75%) and vendors came in second (67%) in this category.

For lower respiratory symptoms among various income groups, the 50k-100k income group shows the highest symptoms (40%) of dry cough. The study revealed that Eye-related illnesses have been the most common health difficulties across all occupational categories, followed by respiratory, stomach, heart, skin, and other issues.

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