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Addressing air pollution in the WHO African region

25 Aug 2022

This is a statement made at the 72nd Session of the World Health Organization RCM for the AFRO Region on Agenda item 13: Updated regional strategy for the management of environmental determinants of human health in the African Region 2022–2032 (Document AFR/RC72/10 and Document AFR/RC72/WP1)

The World Heart Federation applauds the introduction of an updated regional strategy for the management of environmental determinants of health and stands ready to support its adoption and implementation.

Air pollution is one of the most important risk factors for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases, and exposure to air pollution has also been linked with increased vulnerability to severe consequences of COVID-19. In 2019, an estimated 6.7 million deaths, or 12 percent of all deaths worldwide, were attributable to outdoor or household air pollution. Yet progress in turning policy recommendations into concrete actions has been slow, and those living in low-resource settings are especially vulnerable to and disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of air pollution.

Fortunately, there are many effective strategies to reduce air pollution and the harm it causes to people’s health. Our recent policy brief outlines these key measures and investments, such as patient-level intervention, active transport, energy-efficient homes, industry regulation, and access to clean fuel and technologies.

Physicians, scientific societies, foundations, patient groups, and policymakers all have a key role to play in reducing the negative impacts of air pollution, and we look forward to working closely with our partners in the AFRO region to combat the environmental determinants of health. Thank you.