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Plan mooted for nationwide study on prevalence of respiratory diseases

Swaha Sahoo
Source: Chandigarh Newsline, Date: , 2007

The Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Reserach (PGIMER) will soon undertake a nation-wide study, in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to investigate the prevalence of respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The study, beginning from January, will be conducted across 12 cities and would be headed by Dr S K Jindal, HoD of Pulmonary Medicine, PGIMER.

“There is no comprehensive data or figure on a national basis as to the number of Indians suffering from respiratory diseases,” said Dr Jindal. “This will be the largest study undertaken so far. All the data from the 12 cities will be collected and analysed together to reach at a national figure.”

“A population of 15 to 20,000 will be selected on a random basis for screening from each centre,” said Dr Jindal.

The aim is to study the risk factors extensively. “There are various causes of respiratory diseases such as tobacco smoking, air pollution and combustion of biomass fuel,” added Dr Jindal. “We need to gather details such as what percentage of people are affected by smoking or even passive smoking and other causes.”

The economic burden of respiratory diseases will also be looked into. Direct costs such as cost to the healthcare system, the family and the government and indirect costs such as loss of working hours and income will also be included.

“The complete study will take us about two years,” said Dr Jindal. “And we should be able to gauge the total burden of the disease on the nation, its causes and thus devise a nationwide plan to counter it.”

This is the second study that the PGI will be undertaking. A previous study conducted across four cities — Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow and Bangalore — had found that 2.4 per cent of the 73,000 (representative) adult population were suffering from asthmatic problems. About 5 per cent were suffering from COPD.