What is the issue ?
- Over 1.25 lakh children in India below the age of five died in 2016 due to the impact of polluted air and almost one in five children who die from toxic air exposure across the world is from India, the World Health Organisation has said in its report titled ‘Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air’
Key take-aways from the report :
The report found that polluted air inside households, generated from burning fossil fuels for cooking, lighting and heating, contributed to the deaths of about 67,000 children below the age of five in India in 2016.
The study also said that outdoor air pollution, specifically PM2.5, caused by vehicular and industrial emissions and a host of other factors, accounted for nearly 61,000 deaths among children of that age group in 2016.
In a large majority of the cases, over 1.01 lakh children were found suffering from the combined effects of bad air quality inside as well as outside their houses, according to the report. This was almost one-fifth of the nearly 5.43 lakh deaths of children of that age globally due to the combined effects of indoor and outdoor pollution.
Amongst children in the age group of 5 to 14 years, over 7,200 deaths in India in the year 2016 could be attributed to the joint effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution, said the report.
According to the WHO, India was among the countries where over 98 per cent of all children below five years of age live in areas that exceed the WHO air quality standards.
It said that nearly 93 per cent of children below 15 years across the world, or nearly 1.8 billion of them “breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk. Tragically, many of them die.”
How air pollution damages the body :
1. Adverse birth outcomes :
- Studies have shown that a significant associatio between maternal exposure to air pollution and adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth and infants born small for gestational age.
2. Infant mortality :
- As pollution levels increase so does the risk of infant mortality.
- It happens particularly due to exposure to particulate matter and toxic gases.
3. Neuro development :
- Prenatal and postnatal exposure to air pollution can negatively influence neuro development, lead to lower cognitive test outcomes and influence the development of behavioural disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
4. Lung functioning :
- Exposure to polluted air damages children's lung functioning and impedes their lung function growth even at low levels of exposure.
5. Acute lower respiratory infection :
- Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of acute lower respiratory infections in children.
About World Health Organisation :
Established in which year?
- Established on 7th April 1948. Constitution of World Health Organisation (WHO) was signed by 61 countries in 22 July 1946 with first meeting of WHO completing on 24 July1948.
Headquaters located at
Works under which International Organisation?
- WHO is a special agency of United Nations concerned with international public health.
Head of the Organisation
- The head of the organisation is Director-General elected by World Health Assembly.
- All countries which are members of United Nations can become members of WHO by accepting its constitution. At present there are 194 member states.
Any reports released by the organisation
- WHO is responsible for World Health Report (World wide Health Survey) and World Health Day (7th April).
Functions of the Organisation
- The primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system.
- Main areas of work are
- Health systems
- Promoting health through the life-course
- Noncommunicable diseases
- Communicable diseases
- Corporate services
- Preparedness, surveillance and response.
- Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed.
- Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge.
- Setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation.
- Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options.
- Providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity.
- Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.