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Winter, air pollution, disease

By E.OYUNDARI

The three words winter, air pollution, and flu have become an inseparable part of daily conversation for Ulaanbaatar dwellers. You take a cab and you hear the taxi driver’s story of worry about his child’s or grandchild’s cough and cold. You come to your office and you hear your colleagues discussing what medicines and home remedies are currently effective against an ongoing, terrible cough.
Children who attend kindergartens and daycares are almost on cold medication constantly. It seems like we are feeding our children more medicine than food. There is no child who is brought up without  catching a cold. When we were children, I remember we used to be cured really fast and used to get sick less often than children do nowadays. Today, colds  reappear a week after one is cured, complications develop really quickly, resulting in no option but to have symptoms treated at local hospitals, which suggests that children’s health issues have reached a disastrous level.
The most significant age for a child to grow up healthy is between the ages of zero to six. During this period, the intellectual, psychological, and physical development of a child is occuring. Pediatricians warn that getting sick frequently and the weakening of a child’s immune system during such an important time can become a factor in children developing chronic diseases. Parents try to go to the countryside with fresher air and play with their children outdoors during the summer to enhance their child’s immune system, however, it seems this tradition no longer can protect children from cold viruses.

The cost of cold care

Children getting sick directly influences a household’s finances. For instance, one of my acquaintances, who has two children, visits the local pediatrician constantly during the winter. Once, both children were hospitalized for pneumonia. Parents stay for weeks in local hospitals, caring for their children in shifts. Immune support medicines and antivirals like Anaferon, Baby Col Col, Nurofen, ibuprofen, paracetamol, Immunal, and Viferon are regularly consumed by our children. The price of each medication starts at 5,000 MNT. Antibiotic syrups cost over 12,000 MNT. Parents spend 30,000 to 50,000 MNT minimum for one-time injections.
My friend’s children can catch the flu a couple times a month, and they spend at least 200,000 MNT each month to heal their children, buying the best and most optimal medicine. They can’t visit health centers everyday to use inhalation therapy machines, so they bought one of their own for 120,000 MNT. The majority of the family’s budget goes to  pharmacies.
It is difficult to estimate how much money the average family is spending on cold medicines, filling children with various medicine and injections, children who are also inhaling the toxic exhaust fumes of Ulaanbaatar from October through March. There are even more low-income families who have more than two children  who struggle to afford not only medicine, but also  food to eat and fuel to burn.
Ulaanbaatar tops the list of the world’s countries with the worst air pollution. Studies have shown that the combination of coal consumption in ger district areas, facilities that heat apartments, power plants, exhaust fumes from cars and factories, the geographical location of Ulaanbaatar, and the severe winter climate have become the main factors contributing to air pollution.
According to research conducted in recent years, the mortality rate of infants and young children is on the rise due to diseases linked to air pollution. It has been determined that air pollution causes miscarriage, premature and underweight birth, and causes harm to children’s lungs.
Not only parents, but also the government and Ulaanbaatar authorities must inevitably take real measures to protect our children. In order to reduce air pollution and to decrease the outbreak of cold viruses, which has become the permanent burden of parents, ger districts must be connected to the heating system, and until they are, ger district households should be provided with low-carbon fuel.
Lawmakers witness the increase of air pollution, they feel it in the Ulaanbaatar streets and they talk about air pollution, however, they are not taking efficient measures to curb it. It is obvious that it will take some time to take measures against air pollution and see  results  improving, but at least for now, they should break the silence, admit the harm of air pollution, and run a nationwide campaign calling for people to wear masks and avoid the dangers of contributing to air pollution.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=18152

Posted by on Jan 29 2016. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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