Four New Studies Will Measure Cardiopulmonary Benefits of Clean Cooking
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, in partnership with the Public Health Institute, has announced support for four new studies to measure the impact of clean cooking on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The studies, which will take place in India, Nepal, Ghana, and Peru over the next two years, will examine how the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels can prevent chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
As NCDs increasingly emerge as a leading threat to global health, it is critical to understand the leading risk factors for developing these diseases, the populations they impact, and what interventions can be most effective in limiting these risks. Nearly 3 billion people are exposed to high concentrations of household air pollution (HAP) from the use of open fires or traditional cookstoves for cooking. As a result, HAP is a leading risk factor for NCDs in developing countries – and perhaps the leading risk among women, whose health is seldom affected by the other leading risk factors (smoking, alcohol abuse, diet, and physical inactivity) in developing countries.
“Exposure to household air pollution kills millions of people in developing countries every year. This is a leading risk factor for women in developing countries, and we are glad to play a role in helping the world understand the need for effective solutions like clean cooking to protect public health,” said Radha Muthiah, the CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
While there is no doubt that this is a major public health problem, more research needs to be done to understand how shifting to clean cooking can minimize exposure to this risk and improve health outcomes. The Alliance and the Public Health Institute are working to strengthen the evidence base to better demonstrate how clean cooking can improve public health.
The NCD studies will examine the impacts of several types of clean cookstoves and fuels and will measure the impact of the reduction in household air pollution on indicators of respiratory and cardiac diseases. The India study will build on the work of two longitudinal studies funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to measure the relationship between exposure to household smoke and the subsequent development of early-stage markers of cardiovascular disease. The studies in Ghana and Peru will both measure the effects of exposure to household air pollution on adult lung function and respiratory symptoms. The final study, taking place in Nepal, will look at household air pollution from cooking, heating, and lighting sources, and will study the association between household air pollution and cardiopulmonary disease, including the novel use of retinal vasculature as an indicator of cardiovascular health.
“More than 165 million of Indian households use open fires or chulhas for cooking, making household air pollution one of the greatest and most preventable risk factors for non-communicable diseases in India. ICMR has set up some of the first cohorts in India that are focused on health effects of air pollution, and this study is an important step towards strengthening the evidence for addressing household air pollution within the national NCD agenda,” said Kalpana Balakrishnan Director of the ICMR Center for Advanced Research on Air Pollution at Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai and the principle investigator for the Indian study.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private partnership hosted by the United Nations Foundation that seeks to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking technologies. The Alliance’s 100 by ‘20 goal calls for 100 million households to adopt cleaner and more efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance is working with its public, private and non-profit partners to accelerate the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves and fuels in developing countries.