New Delhi: Increased use of cooking gas may shrink the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in India, if statistics from the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) on TB prevalence are considered.
The NFHS-4 (2015-16) showed a great variation of TB prevalence in accordance with the type of cooking fuel used at home. TB was more common in homes using solid cooking fuels than using clean fuels.
More people die of TB in India than any other country.
“There is a great deal of variation in the prevalence of TB according to the type of cooking fuel the household uses, ranging from a low of 206 per 100,000 usual residents in households using electricity, liquid petroleum gas (LPG, or cooking gas), natural gas, or biogas to a high of 567 persons per 100,000 in households using straw, shrubs, or grass for cooking,” said the report released in January.
With only 44% of households using clean fuel for cooking in India, as per the survey, the government’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) scheme that aims to provide 50 million free LPG connections may prove helpful in tackling TB.
PMUY, launched in 2016, aims to safeguard the health of women and children by providing them with LPG, so that they are protected from smoke while cooking or from having to go into unsafe areas to collect firewood.
“There is a direct connection of TB and indoor pollution. One of the main reasons of indoor pollution is solid cooking fuels which is a big risk factor for TB and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in India because of poor people using chulhas and cooking in small rooms,” said Sunil Khaparde, deputy director general (TB) ministry of health and family welfare.
“PMUY can prove to be a great social reform. There are several other risk factors for prevalence of TB also, but if more and more households start using clean cooking fuel, there will a significant reduction in burden of TB in the country,” he said.
Health experts claim that exposure to smoke inside the home, either from cooking with solid fuels or smoking tobacco has potentially harmful health effects. Exposure to cooking smoke is greater when cooking takes place inside the house rather than in a separate building or outdoors, the NFHS-4 statistics indicated.
“TB prevalence is higher in households cooking in the house without having a separate room for cooking (383 persons per 100,000) than in households that cook in a separate room of the house (233 persons per 100,000) or in a separate building (306 per 100,000, but is highest of all in households cooking outdoors (425 persons per 100,000),” the NFHS-4 report said.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global TB Report 2017, India has the highest number of TB cases in the world. According to the report, in India, an estimated 2.79 million people were suffering from TB in 2016 and up to 42.3 million TB patients were estimated to have died during the year.