Women in kitchens should not have to risk their health to feed others

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  • Aye Min Soe
  • The majority of the Myanmar people are using wood-based fuel including firewood, charcoal and fuel bars for cooking, according to a survey based on the 2017 census taken by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.
    The country’s wood-based fuel consumption for cooking has reached more than 81 per cent of the total fuel consumption of the country.
    The survey has warned that the high consumption of wood-based fuel can have a harmful effect on environmental conservation and pollution and cause health hazards to the people due to poor ventilation in their homes.
    More than three billion people worldwide continue to rely on solid fuels as their primary source of domestic energy which is associated with elevated concentrations of indoor air pollutants and increased morbidity and mortality both in adults and children.
    If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day, according to the World Health Organization.
    In addition to the daily struggles and troubles that women face in finding sufficient firewood to meet their energy needs, the smoke and residue from their open fire stoves pose grave dangers to their health.
    In an attempt to nourish their families, countless women are undoubtedly exposed to smoke and toxins that are associated with an endless list of health problems, including pneumonia, lung cancer, low birth weight and impaired vision.
    Many women remain stuck to the age-long tradition of cooking over open fire stoves as they believe that it cooks food faster, properly and makes it tastier.
    There is an urgent need for increased awareness on and access to clean, safe, and affordable cooking options like solar cookers and clean cook stoves.
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