Environmental Improvements Could Prevent 13 Million Deaths Annually: WHO

The World Health Organization on June 13 released its first country-by-country analysis of the health impacts of environmental factors. "The data show huge inequalities but also demonstrate that in every country, people's health could be improved by reducing environmental risks including pollution, hazards in the work environment, UV radiation, noise, agricultural risks, climate and ecosystem change," WHO said in its news release.

The agency said its data show that 13 million deaths worldwide could be prevented annually by improving nations' environments. The countries with the worst impacts include Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, and Mali. And in 23 countries, more than 10 percent of deaths are caused by two environmental risk factors: unsafe water and indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use for cooking. "Around the world, children under five are the main victims and make up 74 percent of deaths due to diarrhoeal disease and lower respiratory infection," WHO said.

"These country estimates are a first step towards assisting national decision-makers in the sectors of health and environment to set priorities for preventive action," said Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, WHO's assistant director-general for Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments. "It is important to quantify the burden of disease from unhealthy environments. This information is key to help countries select the appropriate interventions." Visit www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/national/countryprofile/en/index.html to read country-by-country analyses.

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