Statistics have shown that every year, environmental risks such as second hand smoke, unsafe water and sanitation kills 1.7 million children under five worldwide.
Worse, children are most vulnerable to environmental risks like air pollution, hazardous chemicals, climate change and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
Yet, over one in four of such deaths could be prevented by cleaning up the environment.
Health experts agree that a safe, healthy and protective environment is important for the growth of children.
In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the second edition of its report on children’s health and the environment.
In the report, the organisation listed out some of the impact of the environment on children’s health and recommends solutions for prevention.
According to WHO, there is a rise in asthma cases in children globally with 11-14% per cent of children five years and older reporting asthma symptoms. WHO says the symptoms relate to “indoor and oudtoor pollution, second hand tobacco smoke, pollens and indoor mold dampness”.
The World Health Organisations says annually, over 570, 000 children under five years die from diseases such as pneumonia.
Every year, 361, 000 children die from diarrhea that could easily be prevented by improving access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene and also ding open defecation.
With Nigeria being a malaria endemic country, certain chemical pesticides are used to control bites from mosquitoes and other pests. WHO says “unsafe use, disposal and storage of pesticides are the main causes of acute poisoning among children”.
With children spending a large amount of time playing with soil and putting objects in their mouths, they are particularly at risk of lead exposure. Worse, they are most vulnerable to the effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent health defects especially in terms of brain and nervous system development.