Every year 1.7 million children die from dirt and lack of hygiene

Every year 1.7 million children die from dirt and lack of hygiene

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WHO report: Millions of young children die from dirt and lack of hygiene
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report that shows that around 1.7 million children die each year due to environmental pollution and poor hygiene. Most of the deaths could be prevented.

Environmental dirt and unsanitary conditions, especially in developing countries
Air pollution outdoors and also inside buildings, exposure to passive smoking, contaminated water, lack of sanitary facilities: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.7 million children under the age of five worldwide die every year from environmental pollution and unsanitary conditions. As the WHO wrote in a communication, this is about every fourth death at this age. Most children die in developing countries.

Small children at greater risk from environmental influences
Last autumn, the children's aid organization Unicef ​​reported that hundreds of thousands of children die each year from air pollution.

Small children are particularly at risk from inhaling smoke when cooking on fireplaces and fine dust pollution outdoors, from adult cigarette smoke and other pollution.

"A polluted environment is deadly - especially for young children," said WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan. "Their growing organs, their immune system, their smaller bodies and airways make children particularly vulnerable to dirty air and dirty water."

Lifetime increased risk of respiratory diseases
Damage can start in the womb. Children who are exposed to heavy air pollution may have a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. The risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer can also increase.

Respiratory infections, diarrhea, complications in the first month of life due to poor health care for the pregnant mother, malaria and accidents such as poisoning, drowning and falls are the five leading causes of death for young children.

How the situation could be improved
The WHO sees a great need for action. In an accompanying report entitled "Don't pollute my future! The effects of the environment on children's health ”, the experts address how the situation could be improved.

For example, families in poor countries need options for cooking and heating without smoke, schools need good toilets and health centers clean water and reliable electricity.

Cities also need more green space and safe walking and cycling paths, public transport should produce fewer emissions, and industry must cut back on the use of chemicals and dispose of toxic waste better.

"Investing in eliminating environmental health risks, such as improving water quality or using clean fuels, will lead to massive health benefits," said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health. (ad)

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