WHO researchers’ call for action on childhood environmental health

October 23rd, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 23 (IANS) Exposure to environmental threats can affect children’s health and development early in life and into adulthood.World Health Organisation (WHO) and Boston University scientists suggest that it is time for both industrialised and developing countries to assess the environmental burden of childhood diseases.

Maria Neira, Fiona Gore, Marie-Noel Brune and Jenny Pronczuk de Garbino of the department of public health and environment, WHO, Geneva, working with Tom Hudson of Boston University highlighted a recent WHO report which estimated that almost one in four illnesses has an environmental cause, claiming lives of more than 10 million children every year.

Researchers pointed out that environmental hazards are multiplying and becoming more visible because of environmental change, rapid population growth, overcrowding and speedy industrialisation.

Those environmental factors that have the greatest disease burden lead to diarroheal diseases, lower respiratory infections and malaria, as well as malnutrition, poisonings, and perinatal conditions, according to an Inderscience release.

Work must now be done, they stress, to distinguish the main environmental threats affecting children’s health so that nations can identify the various factors and address them through remediation and education through better-informed policy-making decisions.

Factors such as polluted indoor and outdoor air, contaminated water and lack of adequate sanitation, chemical and other toxic hazards, disease vectors, ultraviolet radiation and degraded ecosystems are all important environmental risk factors affecting children around the world.

The report will appear in the International Journal of Environmental Health.

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