Childhood respiratory morbidity and cooking practices among households in a predominantly rural area of Ghana
Background: Household air pollution is a leading risk factor for respiratory morbidity and mortality in developing countries where biomass fuel is mainly used for cooking.
Materials and Method: A household cross-sectional survey was conducted in a predominantly rural area of Ghana in 2007 to determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and their associated risk factors. Household cooking practices were also assessed as part of the survey.
Results: Household heads of twelve thousand, three hundred and thirty-three households were interviewed. Fifty-seven percent (7006/12333) of these households had at least one child less than five years of age. The prevalence of symptoms of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) was 13.7% (n= 957, 95% CI 12.8 – 15.5%). A majority (77.8%, 95% CI, 77.7 - 78.5%) of households used wood as their primary fuel. Majority of respondents who used wood as their primary fuel obtained them by gathering wood from their neighborhood (95.6%, 9177/9595) and used a 3-stone local stove for cooking (94.9%, 9101/9595). In a randomly selected subset of respondents, females were the persons who mostly gathered firewood from the fields (90.8%, 296/326) and did the cooking (94.8%, 384/406) for the household.
Conclusion: Symptoms of ALRI reported by caregivers is high in the Kintampo area of Ghana where biomass fuel use is also high. There is the need to initiate interventions that use improved cook stoves and to test the health benefits of such interventions.
Keywords: Acute Lower Respiratory infections, cooking practices, household air pollution, cook-stoves