14 March 2013

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam to Introduce Inhaler to Curb Respiratory Diseases

TANZANIA will soon introduce an inhaler to cater for many workers in the mine and cement manufacturing industries who are at risk of developing chronic respiratory symptoms and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

A senior doctor at Muhimbili National Hospital, Dr Helena Kakumbula, said the device will go a long way in preventing as well as treating COPD. COPD occurs due to damage of airways by toxic substances such as smoke from cigarettes and burning of biomass and dust from cement.

Visiting Indian researcher, Dr Rajiv Paliwal said that the inhaler was the best option to prevent patients from getting acute severe attack and improve the quality of life for the user. He was speaking during a workshop organized by the Salama Pharmaceuticals Limited, CIPLA Limited and the Indian based Chest Research Foundation (CRF) focused on the best ways to address COPD using inhaler devices.

"No medicine goes into the blood stream thus the devices are very safe and do not cause systematic side effects," he said. But Dr Paliwal said there were several misconceptions about the inhalers as most people think it has a high dose and is too strong hence causes side effects while others think the device will lead into addiction.

"One gets addicted to things that work in our brain and nervous system like tea, coffee, tobacco," he said. He further told journalists in Dar es Salaam that the global data shows that in developing countries including India asthma and COPD are undiagnosed and under treated.

"These may be due to the underutilization of the most objective diagnosed tool for asthma and COPD," said Dr Paliwal at a one-day workshop on Understanding Primary Healthcare in Obstructive Lung Disease at Muhimbili Medical College.

Mr Mathew Msambwa, a representative from Salama Pharmaceuticals Limited, said the goal of the training was to give Tanzanian physicians the opportunity to improve their knowledge as well as to boost their confidence.

"The team from CRF will not only conduct training for upgrading the knowledge of primary care practitioners in Asthma and COPD but will also explore the possibility of conducting small studies on the prevalence of COPD," he said.

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