Pollution and global health – A time for action
International Hospital Federation - IHF
| 1 year ago
Authors: Richard Fuller, Pure Earth, Alexander S. Preker, Health Investment & Financing Corporation, and Philip J. Landrigan, Global Public Health Initiative
ABSTRACT: Pollution is a major threat to health and the global economy that was responsible in 2015 for an estimated 9 million deaths and enormous economic losses and high associated health care costs. Despite these great impacts, pollution has been overlooked in the international development and global health agendas. To end this neglect and advance potential solutions, we formed the Commission on Pollution and Health under sponsorship of The Lancet.
This Commission examined pollution’s health and economic effects; studied the interconnections between pollution, poverty and social injustice; identified strategies that have cost-effectively curbed pollution; and outlined an agenda for intervention. The Commission noted that over 70% of the diseases caused by pollution are non-communicable diseases (NCDs). To identify gaps in knowledge and highlight opportunities for research and prevention, the Commission developed the concept of the pollutome, a taxonomy that classifies pollutants according to knowledge about their effects on health.
The Commission concluded that control of pollution is a winnable battle. The worst forms of pollution and pollution-related disease could be curbed in all countries by applying technical and legal strategies that have proven successful and cost effective in controlled pollution in high-income and, more recently, in some middle-income countries.
Progress against pollution and pollution-related disease will require that leaders at the highest levels of international organizations to unequivocally and forcefully integrate the pollution and NCD control agendas. Because the vast majority of pollution-related disease occurs in low- and middle-income countries, new pollution control efforts must be developed and undertaken at the country level with financial support from wealthier countries and international development partners, and technical guidance from countries that have implemented successful interventions.
To track progress toward control of pollution and prevention of pollution-related disease, the Commission recommended creation of a Global Pollution Observatory that will aggregate, analyze and archive data on pollution and pollution-related disease and make this information available to researchers, policy makers, the media and the global public. Pollution and global health â€“ A time for action (pdf 459.11kB)