Can you relate nurses, health to air pollution? Clean Air Network, for the first time, cooperated with the School of Nursing and Health Studies of the Open University to organize the “Healthcare Champions for Clean Air 2021”, linking the three parties together. More than 100 nurse students participated in a two-day training. Through the sharing of air and health experts, all nurse students re-examined the relationship between air, health and their profession.
Prevention of diseases is part of the treatment
The students had an Expert Lecture on the first day. One of the speakers, Dr. Ng Kwok Keung, specialist in paediatric respiratory medicine, said that nurses play an extremely important role of observing patients as they stay in the ward and take care of patients longer than doctors do.
“We should teach the patient how to prevent getting sick again when we first see him. If the cause is air pollution, we can remind him to avoid it in daily life.” Dr. Ng said he will also give suggestions to patients’ family members such as persuading them to quit smoking so as not to affect the children at home. He also mentioned that air pollutants cause asthma. He believed if children can reduce their exposure to pollution sources and take medication regularly, they may be able to avoid asthma. It is sure that Dr. Ng’s sharing inspired the nurse students, on the aspect of the attitude and vision for clinical practice.
“Air Pollution 101” tells why health is damaged
Before identifying air pollution as the cause, the nurse students should first acquire its relevant knowledge and background. The speech of another speaker, Patrick Fung, Chief Executive of Clean Air Network, gave the students an idea about it. Besides the 10 key concepts of air pollution, he also introduced some solutions such as emission reduction and good city planning. “I also hope you can think about your role,” Patrick said, “We need you to help connect air quality and health.”
Use technology to avoid pollution sources
The speaker, Dr. Michelle Wong, Senior Communications Manager of HKUST Institute for the Environment, introduced how technology can help the public reduce the risk of air pollution. She shared the PRAISE-HK APP developed by HKUST which can monitor the surrounding air. She sent out a message, which is useful to patients, as follows, “Although pollution cannot be reduced, it is possible to walk away from it to reduce personal risks.”
From the hospital to the community
On the second day of training, Ms Debra Wong, a member of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Asthma Society, demonstrated how to use equipments to measure lung function, so that healthcare workers can diagnose the diseases caused by air pollution by analyzing the data and hence patients can seek early treatment.
Ms Kirsten Fu, lecturer in the School of Nursing and Health Studies of the Open University, shared her experience of community service, acting as a role model of educating the public about air pollution and public health to the students.