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Gambian women at risk of exposure to poor air, causing premature deaths

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By Fatou Saho

The executive director of Gamcotrap and former vice president, Dr Isatou Touray, said exposure to poor air mainly affects women and causes premature deaths.

Addressing a Permian Health Lung Institute launch of an air quality conference at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre on Thursday, which coincided with International Clean Air Day, Dr Touray said women are generally exposed to air pollution.

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“Women are predominantly affected while cooking, especially those in rural Gambia, and it is high time we addressed the gender impact of occupational air pollution because women are developing serious health conditions and some don’t even know the cause of their illness,” she said.

Madam Touray added that “no effort to improve child health or protect children from air pollution will succeed without the involvement of women.”

Dr Sunkaru Touray, a co-founder of the Permian Health Lung Institute in Texas, USA, said air pollution is the 5th risk factor for noncommunicable diseases, but most people don’t pay much attention to it.

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“If women are exposed to smoke every day, they will end up having lung diseases. We should all make a commitment to take actions to protect our women because premature deaths from air pollution exposure could eliminate the workforce of the driving engine of our economic growth,” he said.

Dr Mohammadou Kabir Cham, a representative of the medical and dental council of The Gambia, said indoor air pollution informs and dictates noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and lung cancer.

“Household air pollution also contributes to outdoor air pollution, and the combination of these two can result in a very challenging burden. It is important to zoom in on the vulnerable women because half of our household air pollution indicates lower respiratory infection and women are at risk,” he said.

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