Original Research

Respiratory symptoms amongst females in a fishing settlement in the Niger Delta, Nigeria

Alexander B. Akani, Paul O. Dienye, Ita B. Okokon
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 3, No 1 | a152 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v3i1.152 | © 2011 Alexander B. Akani, Paul O. Dienye, Ita B. Okokon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 December 2009 | Published: 22 February 2011

About the author(s)

Alexander B. Akani, Department of Family Medicine, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Paul O. Dienye, Department of Family Medicine, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Ita B. Okokon, Department of Family Medicine, College of Medical Sciences,University of Calabar, Nigeria


Background: Approximately half of the earth’s population in the rural areas of developing countries uses energy obtained from biomass burning, which is harmful to people.

Objective: This study is aimed at determining which respiratory symptoms can be associated with biomass burning amongst fish smokers in the Oyorokoto fishing settlement.

Methods: A community-based, cross-sectional questionnaire, which employed a modified cluster sampling technique, was used.

Results: A total of 300 subjects were recruited for the study, of which 210 (70%) were fish smokers. The mean age was 31.46 ± 13.03 years, with the majority (42.0%) having only primary school education. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms amongst the subjects was 86.7%,the most frequent of which were catarrh (30.48%) and a cough (28.57%). The respiratory symptom occurring least frequently was breathlessness (2.38%). The symptoms most often experienced during fish smoking were those of catarrh (75.5%) and sneezing (73.0%), whereas breathlessness occurred the least, in only 7 (3.3%) of the participants. Sneezing stopped in 64.2% of the subjects after fish smoking had ceased. Most of the fish smoking took place indoors.

Conclusion: Health promotion featuring preventive interventions, such as the wearing of facemasks and the use of modern fish smoking methods, which is associated with fewer health risks, is essential to improving the quality of life of fish smokers. The government’s provision of certain social services, including better education opportunities for the young, is advocated, and should be especially targeted at improving the lot of the girl child.


fish smoking; girl child education; Nigeria; Oyorokoto fishing settlement; respiratory symptoms


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