Dhaka, Bangladesh
Wage war on air pollution

Wage war on air pollution

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is hosting its first global conference on air pollution and health in Geneva next week at which nations and cities are likely to make new commitments to cut air pollution. The head of the WHO, meanwhile, has warned that air pollution is the ‘new tobacco’ and it is killing seven million people a year and harming billions more. A report reveals that over 90 per cent of the world’s population suffer toxic air and its profound impacts on the health of people, especially children, ring an alarm bell. According to the WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, air pollution is a silent public health emergency and no one, rich or poor, can escape its wrath. The world has waged a war on tobacco. Now we must do the same for the ‘new tobacco’, the toxic air that billions breathe every day. Despite this epidemic of preventable deaths and disability a sense of complacency pervades the planet. Against this backdrop, Dr Tedros warned the world that it was a defining moment and we must scale up vigorous action to respond to this challenge without delay. We have been warned of air pollution through various reports over the years. But the caution fell on deaf ears here and the air pollution in the capital city of Dhaka has gone from bad to worse than anyone can think about. Sometime ago the WHO already placed Dhaka among 25 cities with the most polluted and dirtiest air in the world. The danger remains as serious as before to public health as high pollution level continues in the city to our utter dismay. Industrial smog, smoke from vehicles and brick kilns and dust from construction sites are the main source of pollution. People with exposure to air polluting particles stand the risks of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and even lung cancer and disorder in the urinary tract or bladder. The adolescent children, elderly people and pregnant women are much more susceptible to this menace. Despite such dour health risks insidiously creeping all over, the authorities have not taken up any major step so far to check air pollution. Air pollution now has reached such an extent that even the World Bank financed Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project seems to have little impact so far to reduce air pollution level. Checking air pollution is a public health emergency and double quick action to tackle this menace should come soon enough. Initiatives like modernization of brick kilns, improving waste management, phasing out longevity expired vehicles from roads may curb air pollution level in city.

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