It is important to keep the environment clean and pollution-free to stay healthy. A polluted planet is leading to the increase in global prevalence of chronic diseases like cancer, asthma, and heart disease. The theme for World Health Day 2022 is 'Our Planet, Our Health'. So, let's try to understand why it is essential to take care of the planet to stay safe.
On World Health Day 2022, WHO has highlighted the need for urgent actions to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.
Environmental factors that affect health
Environmental factors such as pollution, climate change, global warming, and ozone layer depletion have negative consequences on human health. A large number of people encounter various health issues due to pollution and climate change. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that climate change can lead to approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress in 2030 and 2050.
"Climate crisis is happening at a faster rate than we imagined. Disasters due to climate and weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense as the world warms. Heatwaves, droughts, typhoons, and hurricanes cause mass destruction and claim the lives of innocent people. Hot temperatures increase the ozone concentration causing global warming and can damage one's lung tissue and lead to serious complications for asthma patients and those having detected with lung diseases," said Dr Vikrant Shah, Consulting Physician and Infection Disease Specialist, Zen MultiSpeciality Hospital.
Environmental risk factors behind various diseases include pollution, microbes in the air, water, or soil contaminants in food, droughts, heatwaves, natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, floods), and the use of pesticides and other chemicals, noted Dr Tushar Rane, Internal Medician Expert, Apollo Spectra Mumbai.
He continued, "Air pollution, climate change and natural disasters, diseases caused by microbes, and poor water quality can invite fatal health problems. Environmental pollutants and industrial waste can cause health problems like respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, rhinitis, heart disease (irregular heartbeat, heart failure), depression, stroke, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, arthritis, malaria, obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer. Deaths related to pollution have also increased in recent years. Pollution also aggravates eye and skin problems. Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene lead to diarrhoea, cholera, meningitis, and gastritis."
Deforestation and rapid urbanization is progressing at a fast pace at the cost of our planet, Dr. Darshana Reddy, Senior Consultant - Internal Medicine, Altius Hospital, Bangalore pointed out.
"Rising temperatures increase the risk of extreme heat leading to headache, confusion, tiredness, and vomiting. Temperatures above 40 degrees result in heat strokes causing organ failure and hospitalization, sometimes even death," she explained.
She added, "Climate change makes it more likely for droughts and wildfires to lead to death from suffocation, burns, smoke inhalation, and respiratory and cardiovascular problems from smoke and ashes. Food-, water-, mosquitos- and vector-borne diseases spreading farther and faster than ever before."
Keep the environment clean to stay healthy and live longer
Dr Rane has urged people to help keep the environment clean, minimize air pollution, take care of nature, save water, and control the emission of harmful gases.
"Maintaining a healthy environment is essential for helping people live longer and for enhancing their quality of life," he stated.
Meanwhile, Dr. Reddy reminded people a climate crisis is an emergency that demands action from all of us.
She asserted, "We ought to aim at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and each of us has a role to play. Making small changes in our day-to-day routine, being conscious about our consumption habits, aiming at reducing our carbon footprint as individuals, and pressuring those who represent us our employers, our politicians to move rapidly to a low-carbon world is achievable.
We only have one planet. We need it and it needs us. Let's all strive for a healthy planet, a world where clean air, water and food are available to all.
Total Wellness is now just a click away.
Follow us on