COVID reminded us the air we breathe also determines our health and wellbeing: VP

Published: Nov 27, 2021, 5:36 pm IST

New Delhi: The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for rethinking the planning and construction approach of houses to ensure proper air circulation and sunlight in indoor spaces. He said the COVID pandemic gave a timely reminder that the quality of air we breathe also determines our health and well being.

Naidu referred to research studies which show airborne transmission of viruses produced by even normal breathing or talking can happen as the viruses stay suspended in the air for hours. Crowded spaces with poor ventilation can pose high infection risk to individuals exposed to the stagnant air, he noted.

In this regard, he called for creating living and working spaces with ample ventilation and natural light, and urged the medical fraternity to take this message to the people.

Inaugurating the 2nd Annual International Conference on Interventional Pulmonology- BRONCHUS 2021 virtually from Upa Rashtrapati Nivas, Shri Naidu observed that people are much more aware of the importance of respiratory health after the pandemic. He remarked that there has to be greater public outreach – both by the government and the civic society – on lung and throat cancer caused by the use of tobacco.

Shri Naidu expressed concern about the deteriorating outdoor air quality in major cities, especially during the winter months. Pointing to climate change and vehicular pollution as important contributing factors, he stressed the need for a serious rethink to our approach towards development from a sustainability standpoint. He also called upon people to evaluate one’s lifestyle and try to reduce their carbon footprint to the extent possible.

Noting the advancements in the field of pulmonology such as robotics and confocal microscopy, Shri Naidu said India houses many advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and is fast becoming the favorite medical tourism destination in the world.

He also emphasised the need to set up good healthcare facilities in rural areas and urged the private sector to supplement the efforts of the government in this regard by opening satellite centres of their urban facilities. “India’s traditional strength in IT and telecommunication must be fully leveraged to provide world-class telemedicine facilities to our villages,” he said. He urged the stakeholders in the healthcare industry to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare for the common man and to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.

Expressing confidence that with rapid vaccination underway, India will overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, he complimented all stakeholders for working as Team India to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

Observing the challenge of increasing non-communicable diseases in India, including respiratory disorders, the Vice President advised the youngsters to adopt a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. “Avoid sedentary habits, unhealthy diet and undertake regular physical activity like yoga or cycling,” he said.

Dr. Hari Kishan Gonuguntla, MD, DM, Congress President-BRONCHUS-2021, Prof. Mohammed Munavvar, President, European Association of Bronchology & Interventional Pulmonology, Dr. Pavan Gorukanti, Director, Yashoda Group of Hospitals, doctors, medical professionals and others participated in the event.

Following is the full text of the speech:

“Sisters and brothers,

I am indeed very happy to inaugurate the 2nd Annual International Conference on Interventional Pulmonology- BRONCHUS 2021 today. I am told this two day conference will focus on the best practices in Interventional Pulmonology, from basics to the most advanced diagnostics. Given the rapid pace with which the field is growing in recent times, I am sure this will be an important and enriching experience to the participants. My best compliments to the organisers, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad for this initiative.

Dear friends,

Despite its wide-ranging impact on society, COVID has also taught us many lessons for our health systems and infrastructure. This pandemic has indeed reminded us of the wise words of Swami Vivekananda, who had said, “You must keep a strict eye on your health; let everything else be subordinated to that.”

In particular, the past couple of years have reminded us of the importance of maintaining a good respiratory health, given that the Coronavirus primarily infected our lungs. My deepest regards to all the pulmonologists and other doctors for stepping up and rendering their service to humanity at its most critical time.

With the world\’s largest vaccination drive underway in the country, we will certainly overcome the challenges posed by this pandemic. The hard work, dedication and sacrifices of our frontline COVID warriors have enabled India to effectively tackle the pandemic. I salute them for working relentlessly to save others’ lives by risking their own.

Sisters and brothers,

The pandemic gave a timely reminder that the quality of air we breathe also determines our health and wellbeing. Especially in indoor spaces, this has highlighted the importance of having air circulation. Research suggests that airborne transmission of viruses produced by even normal breathing or talking can stay suspended in the air for hours. Thus, crowded spaces with poor ventilation can pose high infection risk to individuals exposed to the stagnant air.

In this context, we need to reevaluate our approach to planning and construction of our houses and ensure proper air circulation. We must learn from our ancient practices and create living and working spaces with ample ventilation and natural light. Doctors like you should take this key message to the people.

Friends,

The deteriorating outdoor air quality in major cities, especially during the winter months, has also become a major concern for the lung health of our people. Climate change, increasing vehicular pollution and other manmade factors are the chief contributors for this dire situation.

We need to seriously rethink our approach towards development and progress from an ecology and sustainability standpoint. While governments across the world need to strive harder, as citizens, we too need to evaluate our lifestyles and try to lessen our carbon footprint to the extent possible.

Sisters and brothers,

With sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits, Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become one of the major challenges for public health in the 21st century. Among them, key contributors are those of chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD, caused by tobacco smoking and exposure to various air pollutants, is the second leading cause of death in India after heart disease, accounting for nearly a million deaths each year. This is highly concerning.

Today, because of the pandemic, there is greater awareness among the general public about such respiratory disorders, but much more needs to be done. For instance, there has to be greater public outreach – both by the government and the civic society – on lung and throat cancer caused by the use of tobacco. Likewise, people must be educated about the benefits of early diagnosis of lung-related diseases such as Tuberculosis. Prevention, early diagnosis and initiation of treatment greatly improves the quality of life of people and reduces the cost of healthcare too.

Sisters and brothers,

The field of pulmonology is growing by leaps and bounds. The field of Interventional Pulmonology employs sophisticated techniques like robotics-assisted procedures and confocal microscopy. Life endangering airway tumors can now be stented. Asthma now has biological pharmaceutical products (or biologics) and Tuberculosis has a shorter regimen of treatment with fewer drugs. I am proud to state that India houses many of these advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and is fast becoming the favorite medical tourism destination in the world.

While it is gladdening that such state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratories are coming up in cities and urban areas, it is also a fact that there is an acute lack of such facilities in our rural areas. Therefore, I call upon the private sector to supplement the efforts of the government in creating good healthcare in rural India by opening satellite centres of their facilities. Similarly, India’s traditional strength in IT and telecommunication must be fully leveraged to provide world-class telemedicine facilities to our villages.

The high level of out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare in India is another issue that needs to be addressed by all the stakeholders. The need of the hour is to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all. A Niti Ayog report mentions instances of private hospitals using rampant and less than justified use of technology for diagnosis and also prescribing excessive and expensive medicines for treatment.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Medical profession is one of the noblest professions. As a matter-of-fact, a doctor is highly respected and even equated to God in our society. I urge every member of the medical fraternity to always remain committed to Hippocratic Oath. It is also important for doctors to provide human touch and treat their patients with empathy, which is missing most of the time.

In the end I would say that the creation of medical infrastructure is important, but a sure way of leading a healthy life is to adopt a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. I would like to call upon all youngsters to avoid sedentary habits, unhealthy diet and undertake regular physical activity like yoga or cycling.

Once again, I am very happy to have inaugurated this conference. May these sessions provide a great platform for new practitioners to learn the best and advanced practices from subject experts. I wish you all a great learning experience that will be another step towards a better pulmonary health in India and the world.

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