20 marzo 2016

Prevenire le malattie grazie a un ambiente sano: la valutazione dei rischi ambientali nel rapporto OMS 2016

Vivere o lavorare in ambienti non sani ha causato circa 12 milioni e 600 mila decessi nel 2012: un morto su quattro. Sono dati forniti dall'Organizzazione Mondiale della Sanità nel rapporto Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks [Pdf] firmato da A. Prüss-Ustün, J Wolf, C. Corvalán, R. Bos e M. Neira. Il rapporto rivela che dalla prima edizione (2006) le morti dovute a malattie non trasmissibili (noncommunicable diseases: NCD) riconducibili all'inquinamento dell'aria (inclusa l'esposizione al fumo passivo da tabacco) ammontano a circa 8,2 milioni.
Le NCD, come ictus, infarto, cancro e malattie respiratorie croniche, oggi sono quasi i due terzi del totale delle morti causate da ambienti non sani. L'indicazione principale che emerge da questa nuova valutazione globale è che le morti premature e le malattie possono essere prevenute grazie alla salute dell'ambiente. I bambini sotto i 5 anni e gli adulti di età compresa fra 50 e 75 anni pagano lo scotto più alto a causa dei rischi ambientali.

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments (15 Marzo 2016).

Strategies to reduce environmental disease burden

The report cites proven strategies for improving the environment and preventing diseases. For instance, using clean technologies and fuels for domestic cooking, heating and lighting would reduce acute respiratory infections, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and burns. Increasing access to safe water and adequate sanitation and promoting hand washing would further reduce diarrhoeal diseases.
Tobacco smoke-free legislation reduces exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, and thereby also reduces cardiovascular diseases and respiratory infections. Improving urban transit and urban planning, and building energy-efficient housing would reduce air pollution-related diseases and promote safe physical activity.
Many cities around the world are already implementing many of these cost-effective measures. Curitiba, Brazil has invested heavily in slum upgrading, waste recycling, and a popular “bus rapid transit” system which is integrated with green spaces and pedestrian walkways to encourage walking and cycling. Despite a five-fold population increase in the past 50 years, air pollution levels are comparatively lower than in many other rapidly growing cities and life expectancy is 2 years longer than the national average.
Through WHO’s water safety plans, which work to identify and address threats to drinking-water safety, Amarapuri, Nepal identified open defecation as a water quality hazard contributing to diseases in the area. As a result, the village built toilets for each household and was later declared an Open Defecation Free Zone by the local government.
Currently, WHO is working with countries to take action on both indoor and outdoor air pollution. At the World Health Assembly in May, WHO will propose a road map for an enhanced global response by the health sector aimed at reducing the adverse health effects of air pollution.

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