Today is World Health Day, World Health Day, established to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, which took place on April 7, 1948.
Each year, a theme is chosen which highlights a priority area of public health interest: this year, faced with an increasingly polluted planet and a growing incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases, it is ” Our planet, our health”.
AIR AND WATER: A CONCERNING FRAMEWORK
Cancer, infectious diseases, heart attacks, strokes and asthma, linked to smog, polluted water, global warming and soil consumption: more than 13 million deaths worldwide, each year, are due to preventable environmental causes, including the climate crisis, which is “the greatest threat to the health of humanity”.
This is the message launched by the World Health Organization on the occasion of the day today.
In recent decades, the improvement of health and hygiene services, as well as the distribution of medicines and vaccines, have contributed to an increase in average life expectancy. However, air and water pollution pose an “urgent threat to public health”.
Suffice it to say that nine out of 10 people breathe polluted air, and fossil fuel-related air pollution kills 7 million people every year, or 13 every minute, from lung cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Two billion people lack drinking water due to polluted lakes, rivers or aquifers and 3.6 billion lack safe sanitation facilities.
And, again: 829,000 people die each year from diarrheal diseases caused by polluted water and poor sanitation.
Antibiotics given to humans, animals and plants enter our drinking water by spreading superbugs that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs.
THE CLIMATE CRISIS
The focus this year is above all on the “climate crisis which is a health crisis”. Frequent flooding and extreme rainfall due to climate change cause drownings, injuries, traumas and infectious diseases.
Increasing drought and fires cause suffocation, burns, respiratory illnesses. Rising temperatures will put an additional two billion people at risk of dengue infection, cases of which have increased more than 8-fold over the past 20 years, reaching more than 5 million cases per year.
As for smoking, recalls the WHO, it harms not only individuals, but the planet: “Six hundred million trees are cut down to produce six billion cigarettes each year, reducing the clean air we breathe”. Cigarette butts are the world’s most abundant form of plastic waste, amounting to 767,000 kilos of toxic waste each year that “fills cities, parks, beaches and rivers”.
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