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WHO Global Conference On Air Pollution Aims To Reduce Air Pollutants

The WHO plans to put in place a tracking system to monitor commitments made by the participants.

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Delhi air quality continues to be 'very poor'. VOA

Participants at the first ever WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution have adopted a plan for reducing air pollution, which every year prematurely kills an estimated seven million people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the conference a resounding success, noting 900 people attended, twice as many as expected. Furthermore, it says more than 70-member states, non-governmental organizations, and other participants have made voluntary commitments to take action to reduce air pollution.

Director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health and Environment Maria Neira said the WHO is taking a leading role in setting forth action to tackle air pollution for a cleaner, healthier world.

Air Pollution, China, WHO
A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China. VOA

“WHO, as the global health agency, made, as well, very strong commitments, starting by proposing an aspiration target of reducing by two-thirds the mortality caused by air pollution by the year 2030. And, this is really a big challenge that we will mobilize and, we will call for everyone to contribute to that,” she said.

Neira said prompt action is needed to reach that goal. For example, she says people need to stop burning solid waste and agricultural waste. She said they have to move away from fossil fuels. She said people in Africa and other areas with populations in great need must be helped to meet the goal.

Air Quality, WHO
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

“We need to liberate those three billion people that today, they are still relying on fossil fuels at the household level to cook or heat or light their house. We need to make sure that they will have access to clean sources of energy,” said Neira.

Also Read: Massive Benefits Could Be Achieved If Air Pollution Is Controlled In Asia: UN

The WHO plans to put in place a tracking system to monitor commitments made by the participants. The system is intended to gauge the progress being made toward achieving better health for all by freeing the world of air pollution. (VOA)

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World Health Organization Says First Local Case of Polio Found in Zambia Since 1995

The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak

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FILE - A Congolese child is given a polio vaccination at a relief camp near Gisenyi, Rwanda, Jan. 25 , 2002. The WHO says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995 in a 2-year-old boy paralysed by a virus derived from the vaccine. VOA

The World Health Organization says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995, in a 2-year-old boy paralyzed by a virus derived from the vaccine.

In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak but said increased surveillance and vaccination efforts are needed, warning that “there is a potential for international spread.”

In rare cases, the live virus in oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.

Nine African countries are currently battling polio epidemics linked to the vaccine as WHO and partners struggle to keep their efforts to eradicate polio on track. Elsewhere, cases have been reported in China, Myanmar and the Philippines.

World, Health, Polio
In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. Pixabay

On Thursday, WHO and partners are expected to announce they have rid the world of type 3 polio virus.

There are three types of polio viruses. Type 2 was eliminated years ago. That now leaves only type 1. But that refers only to polio viruses in the wild. Type 2 viruses continue to cause problems since they are still contained in the oral polio vaccine and occasionally evolve into new strains responsible for some vaccine-derived outbreaks.

The global effort to eradicate polio was launched in 1988 and originally aimed to wipe out the potentially fatal disease by 2000. While cases have dropped dramatically, the virus remains stubbornly entrenched in parts of Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. This year there have been 72 cases of polio in Pakistan after only eight in 2018.

Also Read- US Endorses Smokeless Tobacco as Less Harmful than Cigarettes

In meeting notes from an expert polio oversight board in September, WHO’s Michel Zaffran said the status of eradication was “of great concern,” noting the Taliban’s ban on house-to-house vaccination in Afghanistan. Officials described the program in Pakistan as a “failing trajectory.” (VOA)