The World Health Organization has released a report which warns that rise of air pollution in urban areas around the world will lead to risk of stroke, heart disease, acute respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer.

Even as it commends governments for taking action to improve air quality, it still warns that they do not relent and take more environmental policies to combat air pollution.

“Air pollution is a major cause of disease and death. It is good news that more cities are stepping up to monitor air quality, so when they take actions to improve it they have a benchmark,” says Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant-Director General, Family, Women and Children’s Health.

According to Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, “urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health. At the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality. When air quality improves, global respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses decrease.”

Most sources of urban outdoor air pollution are well beyond the control of individuals and demand action by cities, as well as national and international policymakers to promote cleaner transport, more efficient energy production and waste management.

“It is crucial for city and national governments to make urban air quality a health and development priority,” Dr. Carlos Dora said. “When air quality improves, health costs from air pollution-related diseases shrink, worker productivity expands and life expectancy grows. Reducing air pollution also brings an added climate bonus, which can become a part of countries’ commitments to the climate treaty.”

Author: Ope Adedeji