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Expert Links 50% Under 5 Deaths To Air Pollution

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The director of Climate Change, Ministry of Health, Dr  U.M Ene-Obong has disclosed that more than 50 percent premature deaths of children under five years linked to pneumonia are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

This is even as he attributed 3.8 million premature deaths annually from non-communicable diseases like stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer to exposure on household air pollution.

In his report titled “Health Implication of Smoke from Cooking in an Open Fire”, Ene-Obong emphasised that over 4 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels.

He said: “Air pollution is a major public health concern and the fourth-largest threat human after high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking according to World Health Organisation (WHO)”.

The expert pointed out that new WHO air quality model showed danger spots saying that 92 percent of world population live in places where limits of air pollution exceeded WHO limits.

He said that both indoor and outdoor air pollution cause 6.5 million deaths annually, more than the number killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined. ‘‘Around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and simple stoves burning biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal,” he said.

Ene-Obong also confirmed that since 72 per cent of Nigeria’s population depended solely on firewood for cooking as revealed by International Centre for Energy and Environmental Development (ICEED) that over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from use of firewood.

He listed the characteristics of cooking in open fire as being associated with smoke dispersion whether indoor or outdoor as well as air pollution. The expert highlighted other characteristics as biomass quality, ignition mode, flame management, cooking space size and ventilation.

This is just as he pointed out that cooking with firewood in rural areas is associated with poverty, poor ventilation, under nutrition, overcrowding and low socio-economic status.

While encouraging Nigerians to embrace the use of clean cook stoves, he stated that clean cook stove combust fuel or release little or no harmful products

“They use far less fuel to achieve the same or produce greater amounts of heat; the less fuel used, the less disease-causing particles released into the air,’’he said.

The expert further revealed that women and children could devote more time doing other beneficial domestic chores while using clean cook stove adding that it saves time and averts soot. Ene-Obong pointed out that federal ministry of health supported the implementation of the UN global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health likewise the implementation of relevant evidence-based guidelines for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health that would promote their rights.

He was hopeful that the ministry would contribute to attaining the goals of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

“We will share best practices and implement innovative approaches to improve medical surveillance/monitoring and support progress to reduce the burden of non -communicable diseases”, he concluded.



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