SOURCE : WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)
Proper environmental management is the key to avoiding the quarter of all preventable illnesses which are directly caused by environmental factors. The environment influences our health in many ways — through exposures to physical, chemical and biological risk factors, and through related changes in our behaviour in response to those factors.
Thirteen million deaths annually are due to preventable environmental causes. Preventing environmental risk could save as many as four million lives a year, in children alone, mostly in developing countries.
Indoor air pollution
Exposure to indoor air pollution from solid fuels has been linked to many diseases, in particular pneumonia among children and chronic respiratory diseases among adults.
More than three billion people worldwide continue to depend on solid fuels, including biomass fuels (wood, dung, agricultural residues) and coal, for their energy needs.
Cooking and heating with solid fuels on open fires or traditional stoves results in high levels of indoor air pollution. Indoor smoke contains a range of health-damaging pollutants, such as small particles and carbon monoxide, and particulate pollution levels may be 20 times higher than accepted guideline values.
According to The world health report 2002 indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7% of the global burden of disease.
WHO’s Programme on Indoor Air Pollution
To combat this substantial and growing burden of disease, WHO has developed a comprehensive programme to support developing countries.
WHO's Programme on Indoor Air Pollution focuses on:
(1) Research and evaluation
Research constitutes a key building block along a spectrum of activities that are required in working towards the reduction of the health burden from indoor air pollution.
WHO particularly emphasizes the importance of ongoing and planned intervention projects but also encourages research into the impacts of indoor air pollution on a range of health outcomes.
A thorough evaluation of the various health and broader impacts of interventions to reduce indoor air pollution will help generate the evidence that is required for making sound policy recommendations.
(2) Capacity Building
WHO is committed to building the capacity of researchers and policy-makers working in the areas of household energy and indoor air pollution at the regional and national level.
WHO provides technical advice to and organizes training workshops for researchers and organizations involved in exposure and health outcome assessments as part of ongoing and planned intervention projects.
WHO also encourages and supports the assessment of the national burden of disease due to indoor air pollution, and cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analyses of interventions.
(3) Evidence for policy-makers
Current evidence on the effectiveness of different interventions is insufficient for providing clear guidance to decision-makers on suitable strategies to reduce the health effects caused by indoor air pollution.
The medium-term goal of WHO’s Programme on Indoor Air Pollution is to provide a catalogue of intervention experiences to decision-makers.
Working towards this goal, the following questions will need to be addressed over the coming years:
*Do interventions reduce the disease burden?
*What are the broader impacts of interventions on livelihoods?
*Do interventions pay off in economic terms?
*How can we make interventions sustainable?
*How can we scale up effective interventions?
WHO aims to conduct a comparative evaluation of intervention experiences in different settings. This evaluation will investigate the effectiveness of interventions as well as the enabling factors that facilitate long-term, sustained adoption and use of suitable improved technologies.