The World Health Organisation (WHO) has drawn the attention of world leaders to the harmful impact of air pollution on the health of the people across the globe, as an update report revealed that 7 million people die every year due to outdoor and household air pollution.
The WHO made the disclosure through a press statement released from Geneva, on 2 May 2018.
Speaking on the development, Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted that air pollution is a threat to all, but the deadly impact is felt more in the low-income and middle –come countries of the world.
His words: Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden. It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes. If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development”, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
According to the statement, “WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia”.
It further revealed that ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
The document also made an amazing disclosure that about 3 billion people – more than 40% of the world’s population – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, which is responsible for the main source of household air pollution.
To arrive at this figure, the statement noted that WHO has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade and, while the rate of access to clean fuels and technologies is increasing everywhere, improvements are not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Hence, the awareness creation by the apex health institution on the hazards of air pollution to humans, as it recognizes that air pollution is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), causing an estimated one-quarter (24%) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29% from lung cancer.
The statement however disclosed that more countries are responding now than ever before to the issue of air pollution, as they have started taking actions to reduce pollutions in their countries, by providing non-polluted fuels for outdoor and household use.
“Air pollution does not recognize borders. Improving air quality demands sustained and coordinated government action at all levels. Countries need to work together on solutions for sustainable transport, more efficient and renewable energy production and use and waste management. WHO works with many sectors including transport and energy, urban planning and rural development to support countries to tackle this problem”, the document maintained.