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A matter of public health

  • Published at 12:00 am January 16th, 2020
Illness
Photo: BIGSTOCK

We simply must curb the air pollution levels in the country

Bangladesh, for the most part, is not a very cold-prone country. As a result, we are rarely prepared for the winter chill -- and the illnesses that come along as part and parcel of the season.

We are experiencing something of a cold wave right now, and as always, it is the poor who are suffering the most, without access to adequate shelter or warm clothing. 

But more alarmingly, due to the dryness of winter, we are seeing an increased level of air pollution in all areas of the country; urban areas, where construction activity and vehicular pollution levels are already high, are hit the worst.

All these factor combine to make winter, unfortunately, a difficult season in Bangladesh; far from providing respite from the heat we experience all year, the cold season brings to our doorstep what amounts to a public health crisis.

We need to do a better job of staying prepared for this.

In 2020 already, at least six children have died from pneumonia in Khagrachhari district alone. The the national aggregate, no doubt, would be a higher number. 

Incidences of diarrhea have also been reported all over the country, and as always, newborns and children are the worst sufferers.

This is not to mention all the people battling respiratory problems, the flu, or sore throats -- all for environmental reasons.

The government needs to step up its efforts when it comes to protecting people from the winter chill, and it must be recognized that the challenge here is two-fold.

Firstly, people need to be kept warm. To that end, we must make sure that supplies from blanket distribution drives are indeed reaching the people they are meant to help.

Secondly, adequate care must be taken to prevent and treat winter ailments. 

In the longer run, we simply must curb the air pollution levels in the country, because if we fail to do so, people will keep getting ill by the numbers, and each year may be worse than the last.