New Delhi: Human health is directly interlinked with the health of the physical environment and biodiversity. The link is much evident in the increase in the number of illnesses because of pollution and our environmental health, public health experts said on Thursday.
World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7. The theme this year as set by the World Health Organisation is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’.
In the midst of a pandemic, a polluted planet, increasing diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, the WHO aims to focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.
“Human health is dependent on the health of our physical environment, biodiversity and sustainable use of planetary resources,” Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India, told IANS.
“Breaching these will lead to extreme weather events, heat effects, spread of vector borne infectious diseases, damage to agriculture, a spate of chronic diseases and mental health disorders. We need to recognise and respect the sanctity of planetary boundaries to protect and foster human health,” he added.
According to the global health agency estimates, more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. These include heart disease and stroke, accidents, respiratory illnesses, diarrhoeal diseases, and malaria among others. In addition it includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity.
“Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. They contribute to epidemics, drive heat stress, result in poorer water quality and drive food insecurity,” Anjela Taneja, Inequality Campaign Lead, Oxfam India, told IANS.
“Heatwaves, storms, floods, an increase in water and airborne infections, and even mental health difficulties are all consequences of disturbed ecological balance and climate change. The latter can also have an influence on human well-being by jeopardising ecosystem services such as access to fresh water and food production,” added Supriya Patil, Environmental expert at Grow-Trees.com
The WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from a combination of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.