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Spotlight: Pollution triggers health crisis in Indian capital
By:Xinhua
update:November 14,2017

In another alarming revelation, it was concluded that many premature babies died due to non-development of organs like lungs -- a direct impact of air pollution.

Meanwhile, the spike in the number of patients in the hospitals has sent doctors into a tizzy. Many government hospitals were not even prepared for the crisis while others reported a shortage of doctors to treat the growing number of patients.

"We reached the hospital early Thursday morning after my husband returned from his morning walk and started coughing incessantly. His eyes were red and watery. Doctors said he had a smoker's cough due to the smog despite the fact that he is a non-smoker. In fact, my husband is a runner and has participated in marathons. We are shocked and he is currently being treated with nebulizers," said Neelam Saha, a local resident.

While many contend that breathlessness and cough are temporary effects of smog, doctors argue that there can be lasting damages to a human body because of air pollution and it is also linked with the brain. Autoimmune diseases go up in such conditions where healthy cells in the body are attacked by immune system itself, causing diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

"I suffer from first-stage arthritis but the pain has grown worse in the last two years. Earlier, I used to feel pain with the onset of winters and it was mainly due to weather conditions. But now my doctor said that pollution intensifies arthritis and increases chances of hypertension, diabetes and stroke," said Shishpal Singh, another local resident.

This medical emergency, a silent killer in its own way, is forcing people to look for greener options.

"On the day the smog engulfed the national capital, my nine-year-old son returned from school with breathlessness. We thought he might have over-played in the school and would be alright with some rest. By late evening, he was gasping for breath and an hour later, fainted. We had to rush him to hospital," said Anushka Roy, a housewife.

She added: "I never imagined the situation could be so bad. I don't want to give this kind of childhood to my son and we have decided to relocate to my native city of Mysore in southern Indian state of Karnataka in coming weeks. It will be a challenge definitely, but I am not going to kill my family by staying on in this city."

Experts say the air pollution crisis that hits Delhi now regularly every winter is a deadly cocktail mix of weather conditions and uncontrolled effluents being discharged into the atmosphere.

It is made worse with the burning of crop stubble by farmers in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana whose remnants hang in the air due to zero wind speed.

"The government has lost time for the first generation action that was needed to tackle the smog and clean up the air. While a consistent action to deal with air pollution is yet to be taken, the health crisis will further make matters worse for the government," said R.K. Raman, an environmentalist.

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