Dr Satish Rao, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Respiratory Consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital met with children and young people at Saltley Academy last week for a workshop about the links between asthma and air pollution.
The event coincided with day six of COP26 in Glasgow, Youth Day, a day when young people came together to call for action on climate issues and demand a better future. In Birmingham, the focus was on air pollution, a problem that is responsible for over 900 early deaths each year in the city. As a Trust we are committed to reducing the impacts of carbon emissions to help create a healthier, happier population.
Dr Rao has been visiting schools in the area to run interactive workshops with youngsters to help them talk about asthma and make it something that they can discuss and understand together. He said: “Poor air quality affects children and young people across all age groups. In those with an underlying problem such as asthma, we know that poor air quality causes asthma attack. It affects their heart and it affects their immune system as well as their development.”
With the assistance of George Coller Asthma Nurse, Sarah Stone, Dr Rao educated the group on some of the facts about asthma such as 1 in 11 children now have asthma which equates to at least two children per class in an average school. Poor air quality can trigger excess asthma admissions to hospital which in turn impacts school attendance and potentially future health issues such as smaller lungs. Air quality can only be significantly improved by changing the way we travel around the city, particularly for short journeys, and significantly reducing the amount of domestic wood burning.
The event at Saltley Academy was covered by BBC News 24 with regular reports from the school throughout the day including a live interview with Dr Rao which you can watch here.
Dr Rao is passionate about bringing about change in how we think about what we are doing and how we can improve air quality with the help of the children he has met during his school visits. He said: “Let’s be under no illusion, poor air quality is affecting the health of our children and youngsters. It is affecting their ability to achieve their potential. I think we need to do more of the activities that we have done at the school today, it’s been amazing to talk about this, it’s been amazing to share our knowledge and also involve youngsters in creating solutions to this problem.”