Top 10 Facts about Pollution in India
Experts around the world believe that pollution is killing millions of people. In fact, the Lancet Medical Journal believes that in 2015, pollution accounted for three times as many deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. The report also said that it caused around nine million premature deaths. While pollution is an issue in almost every country, some nations deal with much higher levels than others. Year after year, India tops the list of the world’s most polluted countries. There are many important things to note about the problem, but here are the top 10 facts about pollution in India.

Top 10 Facts about Pollution in India:

  1. Eleven out of the top 12 cities with the highest levels of particulate pollution are located in India, according to a World Health Organization report. The report analyzed air monitoring stations across 4,300 cities worldwide in 2016. Kanpur, India tops the list, with a yearly average of 319 micrograms per cubic meter of the most harmful particle, PM2.5. Faridabad is next on the list, followed by Varanasi, Gaya, Patna and Delhi.
  2. Poverty and pollution are closely correlated. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, says, “air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden.” In developing countries, mechanisms like cookstoves, heating fuels and kerosene lighting contribute to pollution. Additionally, ineffective governmental standards for pollutants have exacerbated the issue.
  3. In India, children are most affected by pollution. India has one of the highest rates of child mortality, in part due to both toxic air and polluted waters.
  4. The country’s geographical distribution contributes to the problem. Agricultural practices like burning crop stubble are still commonly used. Its smoke wafts over big cities like Mumbai. Given that these regions are landlocked, it is difficult for the smoke to dissipate. Additionally, it often combines with traffic exhaust and factory emissions.
  5. Air pollution accounts for an estimated 12.5 percent of deaths in India. The State of India’s Environmental Report found that it also kills around 100,000 children less than five years old every year. The risk is also higher for girls than for boys in this age group.
  6. Eighty-six percent of Indian bodies of water are deemed “critically polluted.” A study conducted by the nonprofit group, Centre for Science and Environment, found that most polluted waters are in the Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala regions. This is likely due to an increase in highly polluting industrial presence.
  7. The country’s capital, Delhi, is looking for solutions. In 2018, the city created 52 teams to increase compliance and safety, as well as take quick action. Additionally, the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) halted all construction in the area for 10 days in November when pollution seemed particularly bad. The EPCA is even looking at implementing more vehicle emission control in the near future.
  8. The state of Gujarat is implementing the first-ever “cap-and-trading” program to help reduce particulate air pollution. The state’s government will set a cap on industrial emissions and will allow companies to trade permits in order to meet requirements. It will be tested out in the industrial city of Surat first, as the city is home to high amounts of polluting industries.
  9. In January of 2019, India implemented the National Clean Air Program. Its goal was to cut pollution in 102 cities by 20-30 percent by 2024. Union Environment Minister, Harsh Vardhan, says: “Collaborative and participatory approach involving relevant central ministries, state governments, local bodies and other stakeholders with a focus on all sources of pollution forms the crux of the Program.”
  10. India’s political landscape could be making things worse. The existing anti-pollution laws are badly enforced. Dealing with a problem of this magnitude requires high levels of organization and crucial coordination across state lines. However, there is tension between urban and rural political leaders, making communication difficult.

– Natalie Malek
Photo: Flickr

Maternal and Child Health Definitions

Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and post partum. Neonatal or newborn health refers to the health of infants in their first six months of life child health in this context usually refers to young children in their first six years of life.

Maternal mortality

In the developing world pregnancy and childbirth can often cause severe complications including hemorrhage, infection, unsafe abortions, high blood pressure and obstructed labor. Unfortunately, if untreated maternal complications can lead to death. Every day approximately 800 women die from preventable conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth with 99% of these deaths occurring in the developing world; while this figure is still far too high, maternal mortality has decreased by 50% between 1990 and 2010. In 2010 287,000 women died in pregnancy or childbirth. Eighty percent of deaths are caused by infection or bleeding after childbirth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, or unsafe abortions.

Which Mothers are at Risk?

Adolescents and young women are at a greater risk than older women. The risk of pregnancy increases greatly if the girl is under 15; complications related to childbirth and pregnancy are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls in the developing world.  Poor women, rural women, and women with low access to healthcare are the most at risk. Maternal mortality is strongly related to poverty and is a major health inequity. About half of all maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and one-third occur in South Asia. In the developing world, the probability that a woman will die from causes related to pregnancy is 1 in 150; in the developed world it is 1 in 3800.

Infant Mortality

Each year 2.3 million babies are stillborn and 2.9 million die in their first year of life; the vast majority of these infants are born in developing countries. Deaths are caused by preterm birth, infections such as sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis and asphyxia during birth (when the baby does not get enough oxygen).

How Can Mothers be Saved?

These conditions are highly preventable and many of these deaths could be prevented if women had access to good and reliable healthcare. Women in poor countries lack access to trained health professionals such as midwifes, doctors or nurses, and this is why complications lead to death. There are low cost, effective treatments for mothers and infants but many women do not receive any medical care, or the healthcare providers do not have access to the tools needed to treat the women and children. With improved access to maternal health care in poor countries many women and children could be saved.

The Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation is working to bring low cost interventions such as antibiotics, sterile blades to cut umbilical cords, and drugs to treat hemorrhaging in mothers and asphyxia in infants to poor communities around the globe.

Elizabeth Brown

Sources: WHO, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Gates Foundation
Photo: #Y4CARMMA

Aid coming in from governments, national charities, and private fundraisers have made stories of success possible. Even though the majority still continue to struggle and suffer from extreme poverty, there are occasional glimmers of light that shine through.

Ethiopia has made strides when it comes to learning how to purify water. Learning this essential task has strengthened the community of Germaam and improved health.

A family living in Cambodia was saved from the unsafe task of scavenging through piles of garbage in order to make money for food and shelter. A World Vision worker directed the family to aid that eventually helped the young family out of poverty. Now with education and training, the family is able to provide the essentials for themselves, which includes food, water, and shelter.

Remote villages in Uganda receive much needed aid for basic health care, as well as high risk procedures, such as pregnancies and child birth. Since aid has arrived to these communities, infant and maternal deaths have decreased, along with the decrease of illness due to cholera and hepatitis exposure.

In Ethiopia and Angola, the amount of girls receiving an education has risen dramatically. In fact, both countries have seen over a 40 percent increase in enrollment between 2000 and 2011.

Rwanda and Liberia have each seen a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in child mortality rates these past few years.

There continues to be great strides in the fight to eradicate global poverty. Every day, poverty-stricken people and their communities benefit from the aid sent to them, though unfortunately, more foreign aid is needed in order to eradicate poverty.  Still, millions of adults and children suffer from preventable diseases, lack of clean water, and lack of food every day. Every second, a child dies from poverty.

Every day, 22,000 children die from poverty, 1.8 million die from diarrhea, and 2.2 million die from not having access to vaccines.  Global poverty continues to and will forever be a growing problem unless committed foreign aid is put in place.

– Amy Robinson

Sources: Global Issues, World Vision, Global Hope Network, World Vision – Campaign
Photo: Michael McCasky

Famine Mortality Rates
Earlier this month the United Nations estimated that 258,000 people died in the Somalia famine between October 2010 and April 2012. The number of deaths caused widespread shock and the percent of the population – 4.6% – was shockingly high.

Stephen Devereux, an economist at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, declared that deaths attributed to famine rarely exceed 2-3% of a country’s population, but the absolute death toll was not especially high by recent historical measures. Mr. Devereux reckons that in the 35 big famines since 1900, more than 70 million people have died from famine or famine-related causes. Of these, almost half perished in one terrible event: China’s Great Leap Forward of 1958-1962, which caused famine deaths of over 30 million. Another quarter died during Stalin’s forced collectivization of the Soviet Union in the late 1920s and early 1930s (especially in Ukraine and Kazakhstan). The other huge famine was that in Bengal in 1943.

Since these countries have transformed their food security, famine mortality has declined over the past century and shifted from Asia too, almost exclusively Africa. Political crises have triggered famines in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1960s, including those in Ethiopia in 1983-1985 and Sudan in 1998. The rains failed throughout the Horn of Africa in 2010-2012, but famine deaths were concentrated in Somalia, where the government was weakest.

Looking at the data collectively however, there has been much progress made. With the majority of famine deaths being eliminated on every continent except Africa, there is an obvious sign of hope.

Improvement is a slow process, but it is evident that it is possible.

– Matthew Jackoski

Source: The Economist, UNICEF
Photo: Short Sharp Science