The Respiratory Unit of the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia commemorated World Lung Day which fell on the 25th September 2022, under the theme “Lung Health for All”.

The team carried out a lung health awareness campaign targeting informal small-scale quarry and construction workers at risk of occupational lung disease. This campaign was made possible following successful application for a grant from The Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). As 25th September 2022 fell on a Sunday when most informal workers would not be working, the campaign was instead held on Saturday 24th September 2022. The team consisted of a vibrant mix of health workers at various stages in their careers, including medical specialist, registrars, junior medical doctors, nurses, and medical students. Pre-event campaign sensitization included a newspaper article and radio interview by Dr Chitanika – one of the team members.

World Lung Day Activities
The event was held in the “Kalingalinga area” in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. This site was chosen as it is a highly densely populated peri-urban area with many informal workers at risk of acquiring occupational lung diseases. These informal workers included metal fabricators, bricklayers, quarry workers and carpenters.

The campaign event started at 9:30 am on Saturday 24th September 2022, and had media coverage from Diamond TV, a local TV network.

The day began with a march on Alick Nkhata road and proceeded to Kalingalinga Shopping Mall – a busy local shopping complex in the area. The marching procession was led by a Brass band to draw to attention. Local police escorted the procession to ensure overall safety. Key invited dignitaries who joined the march included the Guest of Honour, Dr. Alex Makupe – The Head of Clinical Care and Diagnostics Services at the Zambian Ministry of Health, Dr Martha Chakulimba -the Director of Occupational Health and Safety Institute in Zambia, and Dr Chongo, a Lusaka Provincial Health Office representative. The marching procession was also joined by members of the public and was approximately 30 minutes in duration.

At the mall car park, the event officially began with the Zambian national anthem and opening prayer. Introductory remarks were given by Dr. Kondwelani John Mateyo-the Head of the UTH Respiratory unit, followed by a speech by Dr Chakulimba, which highlighted the unacceptably high burden of occupational lung diseases in Zambia, as well as the need for a multisectoral collaboration to tackle this problem. Next was a captivating poem by Mr. Cletus Mwansa, a medical student at the University of Zambia (see attached script and video). The poem was followed by the main speech by the Guest of honor- Dr Makupe, who acknowledged and congratulated the team on the initiative, but also highlighted the need for further similar advocacy events on a grander national scale. A very impassioned vote of thanks was then given by Dr Chisha Sinyangwe- a Registrar in the Respiratory unit. This was followed by a closing national anthem and prayer.

Next, the team divided into several groups to carry out various activities. These
activities included free lung function testing (spirometry), screening questionnaires for risk and symptoms of respiratory diseases, sensitization activities of high-risk workers (quarry workers, welders, carpenters etc) and distribution of free respirators. A total of 129 members of the public were screened and 88 people had spirometry done.

The age range of those screened was between 25 and 45. 80% of these were involved in construction and carpentry with past experience in the same line of work. 50% were exposed to dust/inhalants in their current/present work. 30% reported having a productive morning cough with 3% of these having a cough for more than 3 months. 10% had a history of having a cough for 3 months each year with half of them noting an increase in amount of sputum produced. 20 of the screened participants had shortness of breath while walking with others on level ground. Six people had a previous history of TB with no clear indication of the mode of diagnosis. 50% of the screened individuals were active smokers with an average age of onset around 18 years.

Members of the public who had abnormal findings on spirometry were booked for appointments at respiratory clinic at the University Teaching Hospital for further evaluation. Additionally, refreshments and dust masks were distributed to all members of public who attended the event. The event successfully concluded at approximately 15:30 hours.

The event was a highly enjoyable team building activity and an excellent learning activity on organizing and coordinating such an event. Most importantly it helped raise awareness on lung health in communities that are often underserved with public health initiatives and yet are at high risk of respiratory illness by virtue of their environmental/occupational exposures. The UTH Respiratory unit team really appreciate the support rendered to us by PATS in making this event a success, and we look forward to future successful collaboration.

• Pan African Thoracic Society
• University Teaching Hospital, Zambia
• Ministry of Health Zambia
• Zambia Occupational Health and Safety Institute
• Lusaka Provincial Health Office
• Melcome Pharmaceuticals
• Medland Hospital
• Kalingalinga mall management
• All the healthcare workers and students who made this event possible

By Kondwelani Mateyo (2022)

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