The WHO listed the top five causes of death of children under 5 years of age. The report, Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health, provides an overview of the environment’s impact on the health of the children.
Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health addressed the media. She said, “A polluted environment results in a heavy toll on the health of our children”. She also added, “Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits”.
The report based per year states:
- 200,000 die from malaria. This can be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage.
- 200,000 die from unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning.
- 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions that includes premature birth. This can be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution.
- 361,000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
- 570,000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke.
The hazards also include the risks in using improperly recycled electronic and electrical wastes. They expose children to toxins which can lead to reduced intelligent quotient, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer. The report also states that the generation of electronic and electrical waste will increase by 19% between 2014 and 2018.
Another dangerous factor is the climate change. The rising temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide favour pollen growth. This is associated with increased rates of asthma. Air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke make asthma more severe in children.
Unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation increase the risk of diarrhoea and pneumonia in children. Children are also exposed to harmful chemicals through food, water, air and products around them.
It is our duty to protect the future from any harm. The pollution must be controlled so as to avoid any further increase in the toll.