Smoke from land clearing fires particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, often leads haze pollution over large parts of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Southern Thailand. Despite the fact that the Southeast Asian haze episodes are extensive and recurrent, the small number of studies that have examined the effects of this land clearing have mostly been conducted by international groups, with very few studies from Southeast Asian groups (including Malaysia) that have investigated the health effects and economic burden of disease due to haze episodes.
From July 26 to 29 Geoff Morgan and Josh Horsley (University Centre of Rural Health, the School of Public Health, University of Sydney) joined Dr Richard Broome (University of Sydney) and Professor Bin Jalaludin (University of New south Wales) in Malaysia to present a four-day workshop to the Malaysian Ministry of Health on the burden of disease due to air pollution. The workshop was sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in Malaysia as part of its collaboration with the Malaysian Ministry of Health around “Capacity Building for Environment Burden of Disease (EBD)”.
The workshop focused on the methods and data used to assess burden of disease from historic and current levels of smoke exposure and the potential improvements to health of proposals to reduce smoke exposure. The workshop had a strong practical component with 2 days being focused on teaching participants to calculate burden of disease from smoke pollution using the WHO software AirQ+.
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