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  Asia-Pacific
One-Third Preventable Deaths Can Be Averted by Healthy Environment
By Bobby Ramakant
Asia Correspondent
Smoking screen

In the least developed countries, one third of death and disease is a direct result of environmental causes. Proper environmental management is the key to avoiding the quarter of all preventable illnesses which are directly caused by environmental factors, said Prabha Chaturvedi, President, Exnora Lucknow, in an interface with students of Navyug Public School in Chander Nagar, Alambagh.

She stressed on the need to segregate bio-degradable and non bio-degradable garbage, and bury the bio-degradable garbage below the soil so that it can provide us with rich manure, and hand over the non bio-degradable garbage to the rag-pickers.

Anupriya Dayal, Principal, Navyug Public School has initiated the formation of a nature and health club where students will take care of the environment and begin from the Navyug Garden.

The environment influences our health in many ways — through exposures to physical, chemical and biological risk factors, and through related changes in our behaviour in response to those factors. Thirteen million deaths annually are due to preventable environmental causes. Preventing environmental risk could save as many as four million lives a year, in children alone, mostly in developing countries.

"Every year, the lives of four million children under 5 years – mostly in developing countries – could be saved by preventing environmental risks such as unsafe water and polluted air" said senior educationist and social activist Dr Geeta Dayal

The main environmentally caused diseases are diarrhoeal disease, lower respiratory infections, unintentional injuries, and malaria. Better environmental management could prevent 40% of deaths from malaria, 41% of deaths from lower respiratory infections, and 94% of deaths from diarrhoeal disease – three of the world's biggest childhood killers.

Healthier environments could significantly reduce the incidence of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, musculoskeletal diseases, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.

"Tobacco is addictive, and harms not only the health of its users but environment as well" said Alejandra Ellison Barney from Wellesley College in USA.

"Much of this death, illness and disability could be prevented through well targeted interventions such as promoting safe household water storage, stopping tobacco use, stopping Gutkha use, better hygiene measures and the use of cleaner and safer fuels. Other interventions that can make environments healthier include: increasing the safety of buildings; promoting safe, careful use and management of toxic substances at home and in the workplace; and better water resource management" said Prabha Chaturvedi.



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Bobby Ramakant, who serves as The Seoul Times' Asia correspondent, is a member of NATT, Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals, and edits Weekly MONiTOR series, reporting violations of tobacco control policies as a senior public health and development journalist. He writes for newspapers in 11 countries. He is the recepient of World Health Organization (WHO)'s Award for the year 2008. He can be reached at bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)

 

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