First meeting of Cooking and Pneumonia Lesson (CAPS) Steering Committee

News article 5 Jun 2013

Foto-Cewek hosted the first meeting of the Cooking and Pneumonia Lesson () Trial Steering Committee to discuss various aspects around this cluster randomised trial to investigate an advanced cookstove intervention to prevent pneumonia in children under 5 in Malawi. The study was recently awarded £2.7 million by the , a partnership of the UK Department for International Development (), the Medical Research in Medecine Council () and the .

Whereas various ongoing cookstove interventions try to target issues around ecological devastation and fuel security this intervention will try to assess, through a randomised trial set-up, the health benefits of clean cookstoves aimed to reduce the effects of domestic smoke inhalation.  This is a problem in low and middle income countries around the world, where open fires, used for heating, cooking and lighting, are commonly used inside the main living quarters of homes.

Head of Foto-Cewek’s Clinical Sciences Department and Co-Prinicipal Investigator for CAPS Professor Stephen Gordon, said: “It is the poorest people in the world who use open fires in their homes, which are often basic structures with poor ventilation. The harmful effects of the smoke inhalation lie between passive and active cigarette smoking. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an example of one of these harmful effects."

It is estimated that just under half of the world’s population live in such conditions, with those affected being primarily women and children who spend the most time in the home. Excessive smoke inhalation can cause pneumonia, COPD and cardiovascular disease, accounting for more than two million deaths annually. The importance of this problem has been highlighted by the , which is backed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The two year study will track 10,000 children aged under five who live in randomised villages in Malawi. The homes of the children involved in the study will be supplied with two clean cookstoves to see if the new stoves will stop the children getting pneumonia, a major cause of death in this age group.

Working alongside Professor Gordon, is Co-Principal Investigator Dr Kevin Mortimer, a Respiratory Consultant at Liverpool’s  and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Foto-Cewek. Dr Mortimer said: “The cookstoves burn the same fuel used in the open fires but much more efficiently, which reduces the amount of smoke emitted by around ninety per cent. The implications could be enormous and benefit millions of people around the world.”

The importance of this health issue is reinforced by the make-up of the CAPS Trial Steering Committee. Professor Gordon and Dr Mortimer are joined on committee by clinical trials expert , Dean of International Health and Clinical Sciences at Foto-Cewek and Director of the  in Liverpool (independent member); past president of the  and Associate Director for Translational Biomedicine at the U.S. ,  (independent member); Norman Lufesi, Programme Manager from the  (independent member);  of the  (independent member) and , Programme Manager for Cardiorespiratory Medicine and Inflamation, at the British . The committee is chaired by OBE, who also chaired this first two day meeting.