A recent news release from the World Health Organization delivers some sobering data on the literal death toll a polluted environment can deal to children.
“More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years”
Pretty staggering to say the least.
It’s also old news that has, unfortunately over time, progressively gotten worse. It should be no grand mystery that our propensity to pollute our environment is having an adverse effect on our children’s development or life spans. There is hope though.
By developing and following SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) countries are coming up with standards that can universally be followed showing positive results.
“Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) countries are working on a set of targets to guide interventions for children’s environmental health, as well as to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five by 2030.”
The news release is filled with statistics as well as an excellent infographic (click the first slide above to access that). Click here to read the news release in its entirety.
In a press release last month, UNICEF announced that around 180,000 children under the age of 5 die annually in sub-Saharan Africa.
Breaking it down, that’s roughly 500 children a day. 500 children. Gone forever.
These deaths are caused by diarrhoeal diseases that are born of inadequate access to clean water, sanitation, or hygiene. The situation is dire and it’s only getting worse.
“Currently, nearly half of the global population without access to improved drinking water lives in sub-Saharan Africa and some 700 million people in the region lack access to improved sanitation. With a population which has nearly doubled in the last 25 years, access to sanitation only increased by 6 percentage points and to water by 20 percentage points across the region in the same period, leaving millions behind.”
So, in many ways, it’s not that the world isn’t coming up with new and effective ideas. It’s more that we are addressing the epidemic too late and now that we are, we are not moving fast enough to overcome the boom in population growth.
“UNICEF said that without speedy action, the situation can drastically worsen within the next 20 years, as rapidly rising populations outstrip the efforts of governments to provide essential services. For example, the number of people in the region who defecate in the open is higher now than it was in 1990. Meanwhile, open defecation has been linked to an increase in stunting among children.”
It’s a sobering read for sure and it’s meant to be. It points to the horrible cost of past inaction and lack of haste in attempting to address the water and sanitation gap in the world right now.
What’s worse, is that children shouldn’t have to pay for this. Yet they are – by the hundreds – every single day.
Read the entire press release on unicef.org by clicking here.