For more than a decade, Southeast Asia has faced annual haze due to a combination of human activity, natural fires, and climatic factors. A new study published in Respirology reveals that the annual haze is associated with increased hospital admissions for respiratory problems.
Respiratory admissions at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre were significantly different between haze and non-haze periods in 2014 and 2015, with 27.6 cases per week during the haze periods versus 15.7 cases per week during the non-haze periods. A total of 4% versus 2% of patients were admitted to the intensive care unit in the haze and the non-haze groups, respectively.
"Green measures including tax breaks, expanding the use of public transportation, energy efficient vehicles and alternative energy sourcing such as solar should be encouraged to control overall air pollution," the authors wrote. "The annual haze which is aggravated by human activities is an important modifiable determinant of local lung health, which in turn will affect the policies by the health ministry to improve health care services in Malaysia."