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Ministers, officials at COP 22 commit to reduce pollution deaths

WT24 Desk

Ministers and senior officials at Conference of Parties (COP) 22 in Marrakech, Morocco have promised to take steps to reduce the deaths caused by environmental pollution,UNB reports.

Gathering at the COP22 climate meeting in Marrakech, over two dozens of high-level officials related to health and environment sectors signed up the Declaration for Health, Environment and Climate Change, according to a message received here on Wednesday.

The goal is to reduce pollution-related deaths via a new global initiative to promote better management of environmental and climate risks to health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 12.6 million deaths a year are associated with environmental pollution.

Of these, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) are associated with air pollution, from household and outdoor sources. “This landmark declaration has raised consensus for better articulation of our efforts to find a solution to the major health, environmental and climate challenges,” said Hakima El Haite, Minister of Environment, Morocco.

“Together, we commit to ensuring that people – their livelihoods, wellbeing, and particularly their health – are at the centre of the response to climate change,” he added.

Most environmental pollution-related deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries. However, outdoor air pollution remains prevalent in high-income countries as well, with 9 out of 10 people worldwide exposed to air pollution that exceeds WHO Air Quality guidelines for fine particulate matter.

Ninety-four percent of outdoor air pollution deaths are due to non-communicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. “We know that most health risks from climate change are preventable,” said Morocco’s Health Minister Dr El Houssaine Louardi.

The Declaration recognises that well-designed policies to protect the environment will result in reducing the global burden of disease attributable to the environment as well as reducing the rising rate of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases.

NCDs account for nearly two-thirds – or 8.2 million – of deaths associated with unhealthy environments. “The devastating consequences of air pollution affect both the climate and health.

They’re seen everywhere from smog-encircled mega-cities to village dwellings filled with smoke from indoor cooking. Yet virtually all air pollution is manmade – and often excessive,” said WHO’s Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.

“By working together, across sectors, and with partners, we can help ensure that people – their livelihoods, wellbeing, and particularly their health – are at the centre of the response to climate change,” the WHO DG added.

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