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Air Pollution A Major Risk For Children: WHO

Measures for reducing the toxic impact of air pollution include moving away from fossil fuels.

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Air pollution
A bus gives off exhaust fumes in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Diaa Bekheet). The World Health Organization reported on Monday Oct. 29, 2018, that more than 90 percent, or nearly 2 billion children under the age of 15, breathe toxic air every day. The WHO says debilitating problems associated with air pollution begin at conception and continue until adolescence. VOA

The World Health Organization says air pollution kills hundreds of thousands of children every year and puts the physical health and neurological development of hundreds of millions of other youngsters at serious risk. The WHO is issuing a report titled “Air pollution and child health: Prescribing clean air” on the eve of the U.N. agency’s first-ever Global Conference on Air pollution and Health.

The World Health Organization reports more than 90 percent, or nearly 2 billion children under the age of 15, breathe toxic air every day. The WHO says debilitating problems associated with air pollution begin at conception and continue until adolescence.

air pollution
In this Sept. 19, 2018 photo steam and cooling towers of a lignite power plant are reflected in a pond in Peitz, eastern Germany. VOA

The report notes pregnant women exposed to polluted air are likely to give birth prematurely and have low-weight babies. A WHO scientist and expert on air pollution, Marie Noel Brune Drisse, warns that many babies will have neurodevelopment problems, resulting in lower IQs.

“The fact is that air pollution is stunting our brains, even before we are born,” said Drisse. “The fact that it is leading to diseases that we may not be able to see immediately but look at much later in life like adult diseases. Our lung function and our respiratory systems are being altered during our development.”

Drisse says this can lead to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as certain types of cancers later in life. In 2016, the report estimated that 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air. It said the heaviest toll is paid by children in low- and middle-income countries. The report found that the highest death rates among children between the ages of 5 and 14 from both ambient and household air pollution occur in the African region.

global warming, air pollution
The sun is seen through evening air pollution in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

The report says switching to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies could save the lives of many children. It says other measures for reducing the toxic impact of air pollution include moving away from fossil fuels.

Also Read: Ebola Has Reached To A Very Serious Situation In Congo: WHO

The report recommends the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources, less dependence on private cars in favor of public transportation, and better waste management systems. WHO officials say the benefits from implementing such measures will be felt almost immediately. (VOA)

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Conflict and Climate Change Largely Responsible for Rising Global Hunger, Finds Study

Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat

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global hunger
Somalis fleeing hunger in their drought-stricken nation walk along the main road leading from the Somalian border to the refugee camps around Dadaab, Kenya. VOA

A new report by SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, finds conflict and climate change are largely responsible for rising global hunger.

More than 800 million people around the world are going hungry. SIPRI reports 60% are in conflict-affected countries. It says political instability and conflict-related displacement generate food crises.

The Stockholm research institute says food is often inaccessible to people caught in conflict. It says limited supplies of these commodities cause prices to spiral, making food largely unaffordable.

hunger, climate change
The report finds nearly 11 million people, or more than 43 percent of the population, are undernourished and in a perpetual state of hunger. Pixabay

Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. It says hunger is growing as crops and livelihoods in impoverished countries are wiped out by extreme flooding and drought.

The U.N.’s World Food Program reports Yemen suffered the worst food crisis last year, followed in order of severity by DR Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and northern Nigeria. WFP spokesman, Herve Verhoosel says these eight countries account for two-thirds of all people facing acute hunger.

“Even in conflict-affected areas with limited access such as South Sudan and Yemen, when we can do our job safely and have consistent access to people in need, we can prevent the worst forms of hunger,” he said. “We only see famine now when our staff are not able to reach the food-insecure people due to insecurity or where our access is blocked.”

climate change, hunger
Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. Pixabay

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Verhoosel says more than 113 million people in 53 countries suffer from acute hunger and are in urgent need of food, nutrition and livelihood assistance. He notes conflict and insecurity are the main drivers of hunger in 21 of these countries.

WFP is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. Each year it provides food assistance to nearly 90 million people in areas affected by conflict and natural disasters. (VOA)