WHO calls for action to improve air quality

Kathmandu, May 12

Improving air quality must be a top health and development priority in countries of in South-East Asia Region, including Nepal, as increasing air pollution levels are putting the health of billions of people at risk, said the World Health Organisation today.

A press release issued by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia, read, “A new global report on trends in air quality shows that the levels of urban air pollution in the region have increased by over five per cent in more than two-thirds of our cities.”

“More and more cities are now measuring air quality levels, which in itself is an indication that governments are recognising air pollution as a problem. Monitoring air quality is a critical step for taking corrective action.

Nine of the 11 countries in the region have accessible data on air quality,” she added.

According to the release, there was overwhelming evidence of the impact of air pollution on stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases in the region.

Globally, in 2012, air pollution in urban areas is estimated to have caused 3.7 million deaths with more than one-third reported from the South-East Asia region.

“Though awareness is rising, there is an urgent need to address the problem and implement evidence-based interventions,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

Transportation, power plants, biomass burning and ambient dust are major contributors to particulate air pollution.

In an urban setting, vehicular emissions are an important consideration.