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Governments should prioritise health of citizens, observes conclave of 2,000 doctors

Air pollution is hazardous to health and governments should prioritise the health of citizens by ensuring clean air as people recover from COVID-19, 'Doctors for Clean Air' conclave observed on Sunday.

ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 06-09-2020 19:00 IST | Created: 06-09-2020 19:00 IST
Governments should prioritise health of citizens, observes conclave of 2,000 doctors
Dr Maria Neira, Director, PHE, WHO (top centre) at the doctors conclave.. Image Credit: ANI

Air pollution is hazardous to health and governments should prioritise the health of citizens by ensuring clean air as people recover from COVID-19, 'Doctors for Clean Air' conclave observed on Sunday. The conclave was held on the occasion of the United Nations' first-ever 'International day of clean air for blue skies'. The conclave was conducted in a mode of a webinar where multi-disciplinary doctors including seven medical associations representing over 1,50,000 doctors discussed the necessity of clean air and possible ways to achieve it.

Air pollution causes over 7 million premature deaths across the world, with 1.2 million people in India alone. State of Global Air 2019, published by Health Effects Institute, said that long-term exposure to indoor and ambient (outdoor) air pollution in the country is found to be linked to nearly 5 million deaths from non-communicable diseases like stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases.

The conclave also acted as a torchbearer to discuss the role of doctors in advocating for clean air. Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health Department (PHE), World Health Organization, said, "As a health professional, I have seen first-hand what air pollution does to our bodies, to our lungs, and to our brains. Polluted air, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels, affects almost all major organs in our bodies. It is responsible for the premature death of over 1 million Indians every year and brings huge healthcare costs to Indian families and the economy. Health professionals have a duty of care, and they take up a trusted position in society."

The doctors also discussed "Health impacts of air pollution on pregnant women and newborn children's heart, lungs and brain". Dr Arvind Kumar, Founder and Manager Trustee of the Lung Care Foundation, stated, "Air pollution not only has long-term health impacts on us but also makes people living in the polluted city more vulnerable to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 by reducing their immunity and damaging their organs. We must focus on having clean air for the health and wellbeing of our citizens and future generations."

In a survey among the 2,000 registrants for the conclave, 99.5 per cent respondents said 'air pollution is hazardous to our health'. 96.9 per cent respondents said that the government should prioritise citizen's health by ensuring clean air for all as we recover from COVID-19.

Recent research evidence from across the world also suggests a strong link between air pollution and COVID-19 communicable disease. A study conducted by Harvard University in the United States highlighted that every one ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 is associated with an 8 per cent increase in the COVID-19 death rate. People living in polluted areas are found more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A strong correlation was observed between the increased concentration of PM2.5, Carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) & higher mortality rates in Italy & the US. (ANI)


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