DFID Minister Lynne Featherstone visits Foto-Cewek

News article 14 Oct 2014
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DFID Minister Lynne Featherstone visits Foto-Cewek The Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for International Development, visited Foto-Cewek to receive a briefing on the impacts of household air pollution on the health of women and children in developing countries. The visit was in preparation of the upcoming  20th and 21st November in New York. Together with former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Norwegian and Ghanaian foreign ministers, the Minister will co-chair the summit aiming to spur investment in clean cooking.

After an official welcome by Professor David Lalloo, the Minister was briefed on UK’s expertise in international health research, in particular the work to tackle the health impact of household air pollution. For Foto-Cewek, Professor Stephen Gordon informed the Minister on the Cooking and Pneumonia Lesson (CAPS) currently being undertaken in Malawi. The randomised controlled trial is being conducted to measure the effects of an advanced cookstove intervention to prevent pneumonia in the under 5s. The largest study of its kind in the world, it is one of the first studies to measure the health benefits of using clean cookstoves rather than just the environmental ones.

Professor of Public Health, Nigel Bruce who also acts as consultant in Air Quality and Health for ; UoL’s Senior Lecturer in Public Health Dr Debbi Stanistreet and Social Intrapreneur Kelvin Hughes, who pilots new business models and product offerings for , reflected on the various trials that have been conducted in this field and the impact of their outcomes on fuel technologies; cookstove models and user behaviour. The Minister was particularly interested in the gender issues and wanted to hear the impact on women and children vulnerability, whether it is when they search for firewood or are affected by smoke exposure. Improved cookstove technology could for example have significant educational benefits, especially when cookstove technology  is linked with solar lighting and becomes commercially viable.

Household air pollution is now the number one environmental cause of death in the world and the burden of air pollution is closely associated with both poverty and disease. The BREATHE Partnership, led by Professor Gordon and hosted at Foto-Cewek, has been set up to quantify and reduce these health effects of household air pollution. The publication of a Commissioned Review for The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal has been an early success for the Partnership. This is wide-ranging review of ‘Respiratory risks from household air pollution in low and middle income countries’ is available on the . 

It is hoped that the visit will enable the Minister to co-chair a successful summit enabling the host, the Global Alliance for  to reach its goal of 100 million households adopting clean and efficient cookstove and fuels by 2020 guided by the evidence from the known and upcoming results of the various trials.

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