The burning of garbage by households continues to put the lives of asthmatics at risk, according to president of the Asthma Association of Barbados (AAB) Rosita Pollard, who has again pleaded for the dangerous practice to end.
Pollard made the comments to Barbados TODAY during an Open Day in celebration of World Asthma Day at Tyrol Cot Heritage Village.
Kai Allman, 16, an asthmatic and AAB member who was forced to seek medical attention on Monday night at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s (QEH) following a neighbourhood fire, also made an impassioned appeal for people to stop burning refuse.
The Lower Sixth St Michael School student said the smoke from that fire triggered his eighth asthma attack for the year.
“I smelled some smoke in the area and within an hour or two I started experiencing asthma symptoms. This smoke usually starts with someone just burning something in their backyard then quickly it is out of control and there is smoke all over the neighbourhood.
“So this small little fire in a trash can that people claim is just burning garbage, they’re sending so many people to the asthma bay they don’t even know themselves because the smoke is blowing away from their homes into my bedroom, triggering my asthma and sending me to the asthma bay for four or five hours while they are sitting down at home.
“I am pleading with persons to stop burning indiscriminately around Barbados, please,”Allman said.
The association’s president said Allman’s case was just one of many.
“People are complaining everyday about people burning. It is really a bother to people with respiratory ailments and it is causing a big problem. People are being rushed to the hospital because of fires on a regular basis.”
But Pollard noted that there had been a reduction in the number of sufferers using the QEH’s asthma bay.
The incidences of fatal asthma attacks had also declined significantly.
Pollard said she believed the development of new technology had a part to play in that decline.
The AAB president said: “The visits to the asthma bay have gone down. They used to be 10 000 per year and now they are about 8,000 per year, but in terms of the actual incidences of asthma I don’t think there has been a decrease really because it’s still about 18 to 20 per cent of children in Barbados who have asthma. There’s no figure for adults but that’s the figure we have for children.
“I think the number of deaths have gone down considerably and we are pushing the spacing device, and I think that is one of the reasons that figure has gone down…and we think this might be responsible for people having fewer attacks and fewer deaths in Barbados.”
Pollard said the spacing device was used simultaneously with the inhaler to guarantee that the medication was directed straight to a person’s lungs.
Retired pediatrician and allergist Dr Vincent Hutchinson who spent close to four decades working in Harlem in the US said while asthma was an inherited condition, he had found many Barbadians suffering from the respiratory ailment.
“It is a serious issue worldwide but Barbados has a very high prevalence of asthma for a small country. It’s about 20th in the world in terms of prevalence and you’d expect in a country like this with good fresh air, clean air, that it would be less prevalent.
“One main factor that can’t be controlled is the Sahara Dust which comes from the Sahara Desert, which brings a lot of factors like mold that causes chronic inflammation.”
But Dr Hutchinson maintained that asthma can be controlled once the affected patient has a thorough evaluation done by a physician, which would allow for the proper medication to be prescribed. firstname.lastname@example.org