The World Health Organization( WHO) has produced a report showing that around 1.7 million children die every year due to environmental degradation and poor hygiene. Much of the deaths could be prevented.
Environmental degradation and unhygienic conditions, especially in developing countries
Outdoor and indoor air pollution, exposure to secondhand smoke, contaminated water, lack of sanitation: According to the World Health Organization( WHO), around 1.7 million children under the age of five die each year worldwidethrough environmental degradation and unsanitary conditions. As the WHO writes in a communication, this is about one in four deaths at this age. Most children die in developing countries.
"A polluted environment is a deadly one - especially forsmall children, "said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan."Their still-growing organs, their immune systems, their smaller bodies and airways make children particularly susceptible to dirty air and dirty water."
Lifelong Increased Risk of Respiratory Disease
Damage can begin in the womb. Children who are exposed to high levels of air pollution may experience a life-long increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. In addition, the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer can increase.
According to reports, respiratory infections, diarrhea, first-month complications of poor maternal health, malaria and accidents such as poisoning, drowning and falls are the top five causes of death for small children.
How the situation could be improved
WHO sees a lot of action. In an accompanying report entitled "Do not pollute my future! The Impact of the Environment on Children's Health "the experts discuss how the situation could be improved.
For example, families in poor countries need cooking and heating without smoke, schools need good toilets and health stations need clean water and reliable electricity.
cities also need more green space and safer pedestrian and cycle paths, public transport should produce less emissions, and industry must reduce the use of chemicals and better dispose of toxic waste.
"Investing in eliminating environmental health risks, such as improving water quality or using clean fuels, will result in massive health benefits," Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health.(ad)