New report urges Africa's leaders to put environment and health issues at the top of continent-wide policies

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Diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria account for 60 per cent of known environmental health impacts in Africa. (UNEP)

Africa's leaders should put implementing environment and health issues at the top of their national and continent-wide policies, if growing challenges such as air pollution, vector-borne diseases and chemical exposure are to be addressed, according to a new report compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released Thursday.

The report, African Environment Outlook-3 (AEO-3), commissioned by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, places special focus on links between environment and health, pointing to the statistic that environmental risks contribute 28 per cent of Africa's disease burden. Diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria account for 60 per cent of known environmental health impacts in Africa.

Frank Turyatunga- Regional Coordinator Africa Programme.

“We found that indoor and outdoor pollution unhygienic or unsafe food, improper waste disposal, absent or unsafe vector control and exposure to chemicals are the main leading issues in the area of environmental health. About 10 per cent of the disease burden in Africa is attributable to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene and it is evident that children bear the most burden.”

Duration:  33″

The report cites in particular, particulate matter – the air pollutant with greatest impact on human health – is of great concern in poor rural areas, where little access to cleaner stoves and fuels causes significant health impacts through indoor pollution. Air pollution in Africa can be 10 to 30 times higher than World Health Organization limits.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’40″

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