Health and environment ministers pledge
climate actions to reduce 12.6 million environment-related deaths
November 15, 2016The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 12.6 million deaths a year are associated with environmental pollution.
Marrakech, 15 November 2016 - Ministers and senior officials responsible for health and environment today committed to reducing the annual 12.6 million deaths caused by environmental pollution.
Gathering at the COP22 climate meeting in Marrakech, over two dozen high level officials from both sectors signed up to the Declaration for Health, Environment and Climate Change. 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% 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 Ms 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."
The declaration encourages the health and environment sectors to exchange experiences, technical expertise and best practices to enhance health and protect the environment. Global and comprehensive links between these two sectors does not yet exist.
The health impact of environmental pollution
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 noncommunicable diseases - notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risk for acute respiratory infections. Indoor air pollution in particular causes about half of all childhood pneumonia deaths (about 530 000 childhood deaths in 2012).
Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities.
According to WHO, hundreds of thousands more deaths each year are due to direct climate change impacts including heat waves, extreme weather emergencies, drought, and increased diarrhoeal disease and vector borne disease transmission. And these deaths are projected to rise if climate change is not addressed.