Posts tagged ‘World Health Organization’


This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

A new map from the World Health Organization shows just how bad India’s air pollution problem is.

The interactive map, which shows the average levels of dangerous particulate matter in the air that can lodge in lungs and cause diseases, was made by the WHO in conjunction with the U.K.’s University of Bath.

It shows that 92% of the world’s population live in places where air quality is worse than the WHO’s recommended limits.Researchers used satellite data as well as information from ground stations to create the map. WHO data released in May showed that the city of Gwalior was India’s most polluted city, coming second in the world to Zabol in Iran.

The map plots levels of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in the air. The darker the red on the map, the higher the concentration. The PM2.5 pollutants, which come from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases including asthma and lung cancer.

The map paints a dark swathe of red across northern India, meaning that the annual average PM2.5 levels are above 70. The country gets progressively lighter in color toward the south, indicating lower pollution levels. But not one spot of the country is green–indicating healthy air.

A man sifted through trash at a massive garbage site in New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2016. PHOTO: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

India’s capital, New Delhi, is the 11th worst polluted in the world, with an annual average PM2.5 measurement of 122. Mumbai is another hotspot, with an average PM.2.5 level of 63.

The World Health Organization said that worldwide, around 3 million people a year die of causes linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution and that nearly 90% of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In India, air pollution comes from a number of sources, including the burning of trash, the use of coal for cooking, factories and exhaust fumes. In some parts of the country, like Delhi, dust storms exacerbate the problem. The Delhi government has made efforts to reduce car use, but experts say more needs to be done.

“Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,” Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at WHO said in the report. “Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions.”

Source: This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ


This Is How Many Years Air Pollution Will Cut From Your Life Expectancy in India – India Real Time – WSJ

Living in India’s capital city New Delhi could shorten your life by six years because of the intensity of the air pollution there, a new report says.

Inhaling tiny air pollutants reduces the life expectancy of Indians by an average of 3.4 years, with Delhi residents losing 6.3 years, the most of all states, according to a new study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Those living in West Bengal and Bihar, which have high levels of air pollution, face a reduction in life expectancy of 6.1 years and 5.7 years respectively.

The study, which used data from the latest population census of 2011, found that exposure to particulate matter 2.5 results in 570,000 premature deaths each year with an additional 12,000 caused by exposure to ozone.PM 2.5 is tiny particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The air pollutants, originating from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs, increasing the risk of heart and lung diseases.

Source: This Is How Many Years Air Pollution Will Cut From Your Life Expectancy in India – India Real Time – WSJ


Will Delhi’s Extreme Traffic Restrictions Have an Impact on Air Pollution This Time? – India Real Time – WSJ

Delhi has implemented severe restrictions on which cars are allowed on the road again in hopes of combating the megacity’s horrendous air-pollution problem.

Volunteers remind commuters the reason for restriction placed on vehicle movement in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 15, 2016.

Similar air-clearing measures had mixed results during the peak Winter smog season but this time citizens are hoping for better results.

For the two weeks starting April 15, most cars in the Indian capital will only be allowed on the roads every other weekday. In the so-called odd-even program, cars with license plate numbers that end in odd numbers are allowed on the roads on odd-numbered days and Sundays while cars with even license plate numbers are allowed on even days and Sundays. For the first few days of the plan most offices and schools were closed for a string of national holidays and the weekend, so Monday is the true test of whether the restrictions are working.

Delhi to Revive Odd-Even Restrictions to Battle Pollution “Today is the litmus test for the odd-even plan. Like the last time, we all need to cooperate to make it a success,” Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai tweeted from his verified account on Monday. There are 2.6 million private cars and almost 5 million motorcycles and scooters registered in Delhi, according to the latest figures from the capital’s Transport Ministry.

There are many exceptions to the regulations, meaning the number of cars on the streets will not be slashed by half. Women driving alone or with children, disabled drivers, emergency services, cars with diplomatic plates and motorcyclists are all exempt from the restrictions as are military vehicles and taxis.

Source: Will Delhi’s Extreme Traffic Restrictions Have an Impact on Air Pollution This Time? – India Real Time – WSJ


India and China Have Most Deaths From Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

More than half of the 5.5 million deaths related to air pollution in 2013 happened in India and China, according to a new study.

About 1.4 million people in the South Asian nation and 1.6 million in its northern neighbor died of illnesses related to air pollution in 2013, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada said.

The Indian and Chinese fatalities accounted for 55% of such deaths worldwide, the study said.

Researchers studied risk factors for death and disease around the world and found that air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, was one of the leading contributors to global fatalities.

The inhalation of emissions from power plants, vehicles, the burning of crop stubble before replanting, and wood or open fires in homes are some of the leading causes of deaths from air pollution, the report said.

The number of premature deaths linked to air pollution worldwide will increase over the next two decades unless more aggressive targets are set to curb it, researchers studying India and China’s air said at a meeting Friday in Washington D.C.

A major contributor of poor air quality in India is linked to the burning of wood and cow dung for cooking and keeping warm, particularly in the winter months. These methods are popular among India’s rural and urban poor, who don’t have access to electricity or cleaner fuels.

Household air pollution from cooking with wood “is primarily a problem in rural areas of developing countries of the world,” said Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, in Canada.

Over the past few months, levels of tiny insidious particles, known as PM 2.5, in the Indian capital New Delhi have often exceeded amounts deemed safe by the United Nations World Health Organization.

Taking their lead from Beijing, Indian authorities in January experimented with restricting cars on roads for two weeks in New Delhi to reduce emission levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Thursday the city would revive the restrictions for 15 days, starting April 15.

Scientists said vehicle emissions contribute only 20% to 40% of pollution in Delhi, saying other sources of the particulate matter include the burning of dung, rubbish and leaves and the use of diesel backup generators, which kick in when Delhi’s patchy electricity supply cuts out, as well as emissions from small-scale industries such as brick kilns.

A federal environmental court in New Delhi said Feb. 4 it wanted officials to improve air quality by asking authorities to reduce the number of traditional cremations that use wood to burn bodies, a widespread practice in majority Hindu India.

In China, outdoor air pollution from burning coal was found to be the biggest contributor to poor air quality, causing an estimated 366,000 deaths in the country in 2013. Scientists predict 1.3 million premature deaths will take place in China by 2030 if coal combustion remains unchecked.

“One of the unique things about air pollution is you cannot run, you cannot hide from it. We know that if you improve air quality everybody benefits, so from a health perspective reducing levels of air pollution is actually an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of the entire population,” Mr. Brauer said.

Source: India and China Have Most Deaths From Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ

If you’re living in China and have the vague impression that the skies have been bluer than usual this year, it’s not just wishful thinking.

According to an analysis released Wednesday by Greenpeace East Asia, China’s air is not as awful as it used to be. Among 189 cities examined by the environmental nonprofit, PM2.5 levels in the first half of 2015 were down an average of 16% compared to the same period last year. Only 18 cities saw their levels of PM2.5 increase.

Health experts say that small particles such as PM2.5 are particularly worrisome for human health, given their ability to creep deep into the lungs and aggravate heart or lung disease.

“I think this is the first time I’ve seen a massive reduction on PM2.5 concentrations at a national level,” said Dong Liansai, Greenpeace East Asia energy and climate campaigner. In recent years, the frequent grey pall and onset of periodic “airpocalyses” have helped discourage tourism to Beijing and have spurred expats and locals alike to leave for more oxygen-rich environments.

In the country’s notoriously smoggy capital, residents have seen PM2.5 levels drop by 15.5%, with levels of sulfur dioxide – which can contribute to respiratory problems — experiencing a still more precipitous drop of 42.6%, the group said. The capital has been making a concerted push to clean up its skies, closing or relocating 185 firms in the first half of this year, according to the Beijing government. Since last July, the city has also shuttered three of its four coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Dong said the bump in clean air doesn’t appear to be just a blip. He credited more aggressive government standards on emissions and efforts to shutter its dirtiest factories. He also cited the government’s 2013 air pollution control plan, which mandates that by 2017, certain regions must reduce their PM2.5 levels by as much as 25% compared to 2012 levels.

Compared with the rest of the world, the Middle Kingdom’s air still ranks as wretched: the average PM2.5 level in the 385 cities ranked by the group was 53.8 µg/m3, more than five times the World Health Organization’s recommended annual mean.

To keep skies blue-hued for events such as last November’s APEC summit, the city periodically shuts down nearby factories and orders cars off the streets. Such a strategy has in the past paid health dividends for residents. A recent study found that women pregnant during the 2008 Beijing Olympics—when the Chinese government worked aggressively to keep air pollution down for a seven-week period—gave birth to heavier, and presumably healthier, babies.

via Kind of Blue: China’s Air Pollution Not as Terrible as Before – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sanitation a priority for his country, saying he would rather build toilets than temples and setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019.

But new data show India is lagging behind its neighbors in providing access to adequate sanitation.

“Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water,” a report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization this week, says that advancements in meeting Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, by 2015 in relation to sanitation have faltered worldwide. The report says 2.4 billion people still don’t have access to improved sanitation.


Mr. Modi launched his Clean India, or Swachh Bharat, campaign last year for good reason. Research shows that the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting in children and the spread of disease. A World Health Organization report said in 2014 that 597 million people in India still relieved themselves outdoors.  And the new WHO/Unicef report says that the Southern Asia region has the highest number of people who defecate in the open.

The new data show that despite recent efforts, over the past 25 years, India has been losing the regional race to improve sanitation.

Its neighbors, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan led the way with the greatest percentage-point change in the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities between 1990 and 2015.

Pakistan’s percentage point change was 40–64% of people have use an improved sanitation facility. In Nepal, a country in which just 4% of people had access to improved sanitation facilities in 1990, access rose by 42 percentage points to 46%. Bangladesh improved its score by 27 percentage points — 61% now have access to improved sanitation facilities.

India meanwhile, had a lower 23 percentage point increase in the same period – bringing the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities to 40%.

And Sri Lanka is way ahead, with 95% of people having access to improved sanitation.

via India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ.


India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s aggressive eradication of polio established the template for moving a disease from endemic to eliminated and has been lauded by the World Health Organization.

But in the process, a rise in the prevalence of another polio-like condition, acute flaccid paralysis, has been recorded.

Known as AFP, the condition is the sudden onset of muscle weakness or the inability to move limbs, and can be a tell-tale sign of polio, but is also a symptom of other diseases, including transverse myelitis, which causes injury to the spinal cord, Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nerve disorder, and Japanese Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.

Since 1997, children in India who present with AFP are immediately tested for polio to comply with polio-eradication protocol and doing so has been one of the foundation stones for eradication.

Just this month, more than 200 young patients in the country’s most-populous state Uttar Pradesh, suffering from AFP were tested for polio. They didn’t have the virus, the federal Health Ministry said in a statement.

Such surveillance has resulted in a huge rise in reported cases of AFP.

In 2003, when polio was endemic in India, 8,500 cases of AFP were recorded. So far in 2015, a year after India was declared polio free, there have been nearly 18,000 reported instances but none linked to polio.

Often the cause of AFP remains unknown.

via India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ.


Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News

Public smoking in China‘s capital, Beijing, is now banned after the introduction of a new law.

China has over 300 million smokers and more than a million Chinese die from smoking-related illnesses every year.

Smoking bans already existed in China, but have largely failed to crack down on the habit.

These tougher regulations, enforced by thousands of inspectors, ban lighting up in restaurants, offices and on public transport in Beijing.

Analysis: Martin Patience, BBC News, Beijing

Smoking in China often seems like a national pastime. The country consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. More than half of men smoke. It’s seen by many as a masculine trait – women, in contrast, rarely smoke.

A common greeting among men is to offer a cigarette – the more expensive, the better. A carton of cigarettes also remains a popular gift.

Anti-tobacco campaigners say many smokers are simply unaware of the health risks of their habit. They accuse the authorities of being addicted to the tax revenues generated by cigarette sales and therefore not warning smokers about the dangers.

But now there are signs the government has changed its mind. In the past, China’s leaders such as Chairman Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping were rarely seen without a cigarette in hand. But the current President Xi Jinping has bucked the trend: he’s quit. And he’s also banned officials from smoking in public in order to set an example.

via Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News.


Primary care centres key to reforming healthcare in India: health economist Kenneth Thorpe

Over 60 percent of deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease, which are also responsible for about 70 percent of spending on healthcare. They also affect the economic health of the country, with NCDs and mental illness expected to cost India $4.58 trillion between 2012 and 2030.

Health economist Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe, chairman of Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, an international NGO, is advising the government of India on developing a policy to deal with the country’s rising chronic disease problem.

In an interview with India Insight, Thorpe shared his thoughts on how India can reform its healthcare delivery system, the need to replicate successful models of primary health centres to cover the entire country, and why payments for health services need to be changed from out-of-pocket expenses to a subscription-based system and through insurance.

Q: Why should India focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?

A: NCDs account for over 60 percent of deaths in India. It’s also a major driver of health spending – 60 to 70 percent of what India spends on healthcare is linked to NCDs. It’s a major problem not just in terms of healthcare but also in terms of productivity.

Q. Which sector is more crucial to improving healthcare delivery in India – government or private?

A: Both. It’s got to be a public-private partnership. So today, India spends about 4 percent of its GDP on healthcare. About one-and-a-half percent of that is the government and the rest is private. So we just need to scale that up – probably proportionally to something like 5 or 6 percent of GDP.

Q: In what way are you working with the Indian government?

A: We’re working on developing a policymaking framework for healthcare reform solution for India.

Q. Has there been any progress?

A: With the Modi government coming in, there was a renewed interest in developing something as a health policy solution for India. They seem very receptive to some of the things that we’re talking about in terms of preventing chronic disease and treating patients that have chronic disease.

Q: What have you been able to achieve?

A: We were here in December and the ministers asked us to put together a blueprint of what would a healthcare reform look like. And so we put together some thoughts that they basically incorporated into their blueprint (National Health Policy) in February. That’s like an outline, so the next point is saying: “How do we operationalise this outline?”

Q: What have you proposed in your blueprint?

A: One is that we really need to build up the primary care infrastructure. We need more manpower, more hospital beds, but we really need capacity – building up primary care clinics, primary care models that really deal with identifying chronic disease, preventing it and managing it. And there are some good models that we’ve identified throughout the country that we think we can scale them and replicate them throughout India.

Q: Are you saying that the main focus should be on primary healthcare centres?

A: That’s the biggest challenge. That’s the starting place. We need to build from the ground up.

Q: And majority of scaling up will have to come from the private sector?

A: I think one of our messages is that the government can’t do this alone. It just doesn’t have the resources to really build the system and build the infrastructure. It’s going to need private sector investment as well. So we’re trying to figure out how we can harness some of the private sector money and help build a healthcare delivery system and potentially a bigger healthcare insurance system.

Q: Where does the government come in?

A: The government has to play a role in funding, particularly low-income populations – the poor that live in rural areas, urban poor.

Q: What else?

A: Manpower training, more doctors and nurses …

Q: Can the government help in nudging private players to increase their participation, especially in rural areas?

A: The government’s got to play a leadership role and say: “Here’s where we are going, here’s the plan, here’s the framework, the blueprint. We’ll work with the states in order to implement this.”

But we need to sort of change the way that healthcare services are paid for. So today in India, 60 percent of spending is out of pocket. So we need to change that from out-of-pocket buying to something like a primary care package (subscription) or an insurance product.

Q:  Very few people in India have health insurance, and health policies have a very limited coverage.

A: I think the insurance model needs to be completely changed. Private insurance covers just 2 percent of the population and it covers only in-patient hospital care. And the problem is that most of these chronic diseases need primary care, medications, home community-based services – things that are not covered in current insurance policies.

Q: Where does India stand on the problem of NCDs as compared to other developing countries?

A: The challenge India faces is its ability to manage and deal with it is way below the average because the capacity is not there, the infrastructure is not there, the manpower is not there, the investment is really not there.

via Primary care centres key to reforming healthcare in India: health economist Kenneth Thorpe.


India will set Climate Change conference agenda: Modi – The Hindu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has slammed developed nations for questioning India over global warming despite it having the lowest per capita emission of gases and asserted that India will set the agenda for the Climate Change conference to be held in France in September.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser (centre) smiles as a trainee hands over a small Berlin TV Tower to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to the Siemens company in Berlin on Monday.

“I am surprised that the world is scolding us even though our per capita gas emission is the lowest…,” he said while addressing a reception for the Indian community here last night.

Underlining that preservation of nature was in the customs and tradition of Indians which they have done for ages, Mr. Modi said, “The whole world is posing questions to us. Those who have destroyed climate are asking questions to us. If anybody has served the nature, it is Indians.”

He asserted that India is “not answerable to the world” and will tell them that “you destroyed nature.”

Underlining that India should lead the way to deal with climate change, the Prime Minister said, “India will set the agenda for the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP)” meeting to be held in Paris in September.

Referring to India’s traditional practices and traditions, Mr. Modi said it is the only country which has served the nature the most as Indians even treat even river as mother and worship trees.

“Treating the nature well comes naturally for Indians and they (developed nations) are teaching us,” he said.

The Prime Minster said the solutions to the “crisis” on account of global warming are in India’s traditions and customs.

“We should go out with confidence,” he said, asking the Indian diaspora to contribute in this regard.

At the same time, he said India also wants solutions to the global problem of climate change. In this regard, he spoke about his government’s initiatives to tap clean and renewable energy for generating 175 Gigawatts of electricity from it.

One Gigawatt is equal to 1,000 MW.

“Earlier, we did not go beyond Megawatts but in 10 months, we have at least started thinking of Gigawatts,” he said.

via India will set Climate Change conference agenda: Modi – The Hindu.

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