Government has launched a manual to ensure universal access to modern cooking methods is realised.
The first edition of a facilitators training manual on household air pollution was unveiled on Friday.
The 136-page document themed “Household Air Pollution: A Silent Threat to Health and Environment. Let’s Act Together to Save Lives’’, was launched by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and development partners.
The document outlines procedures to guide communities and the community health workforce on the prevention and control of indoor air pollutants responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as cancer.
Health Acting Director-General Patrick Amoth, in his speech read by the head of primary healthcare department Salim Hussein, said the exposure to air pollution is responsible for a staggering number of preventable illnesses and deaths across the globe making it the single greatest environmental health threat.
“Worth to note is that air pollution exacerbates the severity of illness and deaths from COVID-19 and is the leading risk factor for deaths from pneumonia across all age groups,” Akoth said.
“99% of the people here have been affected by pollution in one way or another, it could be in form of fuel, lighting or in form of smoking. Most of us have been in a household where there was smoke.”
The launch of the guide comes in the wake of a global health crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change crisis with a majority of households forced to stay indoors owing to movement restrictions and lockdowns.
Exposure to household air pollution is ranked among the top ten risk factors for deaths in Kenya. The annual deaths attributable to household air pollution in Kenya as per World Health Organization (WHO) estimates of 2016 were 15,140 while the Ministry in 2020 estimated that 23,000 Kenyans died.
It is estimated about 3 billion of the world’s poorest population still rely on solid fuels like wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal burned in inefficient and highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating. This has resulted in about 4 million premature deaths annually among children and adults from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.