CHE | Jun 5, 2023

UICC calls for global action to combat air pollution

/ Our Today

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(Photo: The Union for International Cancer Control)

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) urges global action to improve public health and prevent millions of deaths from cancer and other non-communicable diseases by drastically reducing air pollution.

The organisation noted that air pollution causes 6.7 million deaths annually, a similar rate to deaths that occurred during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. They further noted that the issue mainly resides in low and middle-income countries that report 92 per cent of air pollution deaths.

“Creating cleaner and greener environments to reduce air pollution is about fostering conditions that encourage more active, healthier lifestyles, further lowering the risk of various cancers and non-communicable diseases,” said Dr Sonali Johnson, Head of Knowledge, Advocacy and Policy at the UICC.

The UICC said that only 1 per cent of the world breathes air that does not exceed air quality limits. They noted this is a cause for concern because exposure to air pollution can lead to cancer, stroke, respiratory, cardiovascular diseases, and other health issues.

Dr Sonali Johnson, Head of Knowledge, Advocacy and Policy at the UICC. (Photo: LinkedIn)

As such, they are urging firm measures to reduce air pollution that can significantly reduce air pollution, including the transition to renewable energy.

Additionally, they recommend the promotion of public transportation, bicycling, and walking. They noted that more green spaces need to be created, as well as pollution control policies.

“Not only do these actions directly lower the risks of developing cancer and other diseases by reducing exposure to harmful pollutants, but they also indirectly promote better health by creating environments conducive to physical activity,” they wrote in a release.

World Environmental Day a time to take action

Today (June 5) marks the celebration of World Environmental Day, and the UICC believes it is the appropriate time to take action towards a cleaner environment and reduce the risk of air pollution-related deaths.

“World Environment Day serves as a reminder that action towards a cleaner environment is also a step towards a healthier population and a crucial element in reducing the burden of cancer around the world and particularly in low-resourced regions least equipped to manage the disease,” said Dr Cary Adams, CEO of the UICC.

The organisation noted that making air cleaner is a financial investment. However, they believe the economic gains from a healthier population far outweigh the costs.


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