A rapidly growing city and home to over four million people, Accra has been called one of the most polluted cities on Earth, a title the city is now intent to shed. The Urban Health and SLCP Reduction project, launched in , has been engaging key stakeholders in the health, transport, waste and energy sectors to improve air quality as a health intervention in Accra.
This project provides a model for other cities. A city of medieval palaces and temples, sitting along an ancient trade route linking India and Tibet, Kathmandu City, Nepal lies in a bowl-shaped valley. In recent years WHO has found air pollution to be the leading risk factor for death and disability in Nepal. As the first South-East Asian city to pilot the Urban Health Initiative, lessons learned from Kathmandu could serve as an example to other South-East Asian cities facing air pollution problems.
Tools featured on this website assist their users to build internal capacity and make more informed decisions. This section highlights some of the tools available to assess, plan and finance healthy and climate-adapted cities. Also covered are best practices in policy and regulation and some successful experiences across the world. These tools allow urban planners and policy-makers to estimate economic, health and environmental impacts from particular sectors, track health indicators, and assess the health impacts of policy actions.
This section examines health risks by sector of the urban economy, climate-related health risks and examines health equity in cities. Action to mitigate urban health risks can have important co-benefits for multiple policy objectives. The simultaneous generation of wealth and pollution begs the question: do nations have to sacrifice clean air and public health in exchange for economic growth? No, it turns out that they do not.
Air Pollution and Health in Rapidly Developing Countries
In fact, air pollution is a huge drag on national economies. Air pollution costs more than lives — toxic air costs money. In China, where air pollution is an everyday scourge for more than half the population, the number of deaths that can be attributed to airborne toxins is one in five. Air pollution in emerging giants like China and India is now notorious and an issue of national morale. Yet the EPI finds that unsafe levels of air toxins is a global phenomenon not peculiar to the developing world.
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New laws, however, are set to drastically reduce tailpipe emissions in Europe. In China and India, coal-fired power plants and the introduction every day of thousands of new vehicles to the roads continues to push NOx levels beyond what humans can safely tolerate.
And, collaborating with the US, Chinese officials announced in late that the country will peak carbon emissions by if not before, the same year the government has pledged blue skies over its cities. But merely showing the will to remedy air pollution is insufficient. And while air quality data has never been more abundant globally than it is today, large data gaps remain, especially in developing nations where air quality is declining. In response to the need for more and better data, many national governments are collaborating with each other and with private sector firms to devise new methods for collecting, organizing, and disseminating information about air quality.
Multinational collaborations like this are growing in number and scale. Just as satellite and other remote sensing technologies improve and are deployed to collect air quality data, individual, low-cost pollution monitors are important contributors to data collection. Sensors small enough to be carried around by individuals going about their daily lives have become accurate and affordable, and personal networking devices allow for real-time data collection and dissemination. This convergence of technological innovation presents a golden opportunity for citizens to contribute large-scale, fine resolution air pollution data to governments and for governing bodies to relay information back to the people.
New public-private projects in China and the U. Innovations in air monitoring represent one market-based answer to a market failure and, of course, it must only be a first step. Climatic warming and increased malaria incidence in Rwanda. Lancet Longstreth, J and J Wiseman. The potential impact of climate change on patterns of infectious disease in the United States. Potential impact of global climate change on malaria risk. Environ Health Persp Matlai, P and V Beral.
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Trends in congenital malformations of external genitalia. Lancet 1 12 January McMichael, AJ. London: Cambridge University Press. Meybeck, M and R Helmer.
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Hibernating bears emerge with hints about human ills. Ryzan, CA. Massive outbreak of antimicrobial-resistant salmonellosis traced to pasteurized milk. JAMA 22 Sanford, JP.
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