ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organization (WHO) said a quarter of all global deaths of children under five are due to unhealthy or polluted environments including dirty water and air, second-hand smoke and a lack or adequate hygiene.
According to Radio report, the WHO said, such unsanitary and polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia and kill 1.7 million children a year.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement that a polluted environment is a deadly one particularly for young children,”. Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”
In the report,”Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children’s health and the environment” the WHO said harmful exposure can start in the womb, and then continue if infants and toddlers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke.
This increases their childhood risk of pneumonia as well as their lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. Air pollution also increases the lifelong risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, the report said.
The report also noted that in households without access to safe water and sanitation, or that are polluted with smoke from unclean fuels such as coal or dung for cooking and heating, children are at higher risk of diarrhea and pneumonia.