First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health
The air pollution problem is far beyond a green issue! On 31 October and 1 November this year, WHO conference was held in Geneva and first themed ‘Air Pollution and Health’. It clearly brought out the message that air pollution not only affected the climate and environment but also public health. The global forum has visualized the invisible killer in front of the world.
In the conference, it mentioned the impact of air pollution on public health supported by scientific evidence, including:
Air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million deaths per year;
Children’s early life exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk for many chronic diseases.
Participants at the conference set up an aspirational goal of reducing the number of deaths from air pollution by two thirds by 2030. To achieve the goal, the following elements were put forward:
Reduce fuel burning and implement cleaner energy. Promote green transport including walking and cycling;
Strengthen actions to protect children’s health and prevent air pollution illnesses in childhood;
Support cities to improve urban air quality. Support for the creation of national urban policies and initiatives for clean air;
Enhance education on air pollution. Strengthen universal health systems to implement actions that prevent air pollution-related diseases.
The series of measures for combating air pollution are closely related to public health to protect people from air pollution illnesses. Back to HK: do you know the present air policies? Air pollution, transportation and health are inter-related but Environmental Protection Department, Transport Department and Department for Health are operating individually. Joint effort to alleviate traffic congestion and protect vulnerable populations is needed on the issue to safeguard public health.