A campaign by the Lung Care Foundation, supported by U.S. Embassy New Delhi, empowers communities to protect themselves from air pollution.
(Altaf Qadri © AP Images)
“Air pollution affects all organs of the body, at all ages, from brain to toe,” explains chest surgeon Dr. Arvind Kumar, founder trustee of the nonprofit organization Lung Care Foundation (LCF). In June 2023, the LCF concluded its SHAN (Saaf Hawa Aur Nagrik) campaign supported by the U.S. Embassy New Delhi. Through conferences, policy dialogues, youth and community awareness programs, and wall art programs, the campaign educated diverse communities on how they could improve air quality and health.
According to Dr. Kumar, a pregnant woman living in a polluted area passes down the bad air through her placenta to the fetus, the impact of which may show up as congenital defects in the first trimester. Even in his older patients, says Dr. Kumar, the trend of lung damage is changing, and for the worse. “Because the air we breathe is so bad, we are exposed to smoke from birth,” he says.
Founder trustee Rajiv Khurana says the campaign succeeded in encouraging families to start a conversation around health and air pollution because LCF made targeted efforts to include children and youngsters in its awareness activities.
Though based out of New Delhi, the LCF founder trustees have made an impact across north India and on social media. Under the SHAN campaign, LCF created a video titled “Chulha,” to highlight the effect of bad air on women’s health. The LCF deployed its Youth Task Force and schoolchildren to reach targeted audiences. The impact was so far ranging, says Khurana, that workers in Delhi convinced their families in their native villages to give up traditional wood-fired stoves and invest in LPG cylinders. The video has 96,000 views on YouTube.
Thanks to the successful campaign carried out with funds from the U.S. Embassy New Delhi, LCF has signed memorandums of understanding with administrative bodies of Gurugram, Haryana, and the Government of India. The MoU with DRIIV (Delhi Research Implementation and Innovation)—an initiative of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India—aims to promote awareness on air pollution and health, and address them through technological innovations. DRIIV is an umbrella body of educational institutions, laboratories, relevant ministries, nonprofit organizations and industry partners. Under the MoU, LCF will create awareness and conduct lab-based research on air pollution and lung health, and provide medical care to patients of lung diseases.
The MoUs with the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) also aim to bring together other organizations working in the sector of air pollution and synergize their efforts. The Lung Care Foundation has been tasked with increasing awareness among the residents on the ill effects of pollution on health through awareness and engagement programs with doctors, residents welfare associations and local eco-clubs.
The organization has also been invited by the Uttar Pradesh government to hold awareness sessions in Agra, Ghaziabad, Kanpur and Lucknow.
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