Ninety-two thousand people were diagnosed with acute respiratory infections out of which 22 died in the last four months, from November 2019 to February 22 this year, as a result of inhaling polluted air, says data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The DGHS also said that the highest number of people suffered from acute respiratory infections in January this year. Some 26,461 patients with respiratory tract infection were medicated that month.
The DGHS's Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room says it has collected data from across the country from November 2019 to monitor the outbreak of the seasonal diseases during winter.
Specialists said acute respiratory infections are related to air pollution. As air pollution increases, patients with acute respiratory infections also increase.
The director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Prof Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, told The Business Standard that acute respiratory infections are related to air pollution. The level of air pollution tends to increase day by day.
Ferdousi Begum, a resident of the capital's Mirpur area, suffered from a cold and cough for a month. After undergoing some tests, she learnt that she has been suffering from long exposure respiratory tract infection. Doctors advised her to take medicines regularly and to avoid dust.
Just like they did to Ferdousi Begum, doctors also advised Mohammad Sohrab, a security guard at the Mohanagar project in the capital, to do the same thing. He went to the Community Medical College and Hospital after suffering from a cold and cough. He was diagnosed as having a dust allergy, and doctors advised him to avoid dust for quick recovery.
The Directorate General of Health Services has collected data of respiratory tract infections, including COPD and Asthma for the last five years. The number of deaths and of infected people has increased in this period.
DGHS data revealed there were 56 deaths due to asthma and 3,326 suffered from asthma in 2015. The number of deaths and of people infected with asthma increased to 588 and 78,806 respectively in 2019. Additionally, the number of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has also increased. There were 31 deaths due to COPD and 1,610 were infected with it in 2015. The number of deaths and of people infected with COPD reached 588 and 78,806 respectively in 2019.
DGHS assistant director (Health Emergency Operations Centre and Control Room) Dr Ayesha Akter told The Business Standard that since air pollution and pollution-related diseases are increasing day by day, they advise everyone to wear a mask and avoid dust to protect themselves from polluted air.
"The number of pollution-related patients will decrease naturally once the pollution is deceased," she added.
Dhaka's position in the Air Quality Index (AQI) was at 220 at 10:55 am on Saturday, which is very unhealthy. Doctors said that when the air quality index reaches 200, a person cannot avoid the harmful effects of air pollution even by wearing a mask.
Physicians said excessive micro particles in the air cause different diseases including headache and respiratory tract infections in the short term. People can get lung cancer, asthma and other respiratory problems by breathing polluted air. This may also damage the kidney and other organs.
Dr Sadia Sultana of the National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH) told The Business Standard that people may suffer from many diseases including asthma, heart disease, and acute respiratory infections due to inhaling excessive micro particles in the air.
Additionally, many life-threatening diseases may develop as a result of the piling-up of these particles in the respiratory tract.
There are an increasing number of patients being admitted to hospital with dust allergies, asthma and long-term respiratory tract infections caused by air pollution.
The State of Global Air 2019 report revealed that 1.23 lakh people died prematurely in Bangladesh in 2017 from illnesses caused by breathing polluted air.