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Experts stress on need to check on air pollution to reduce impact of climate change, human health

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Senior Correspondent
On occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on September 8, an online meeting was organized by School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Devi Ahilya Vishvavidyala (DAVV), Indore with support of UNICEF for media students and media representatives. Around 55 participants joined the meeting

Speaking at the meeting, Rajashree Bajaj, state nodal officer for national programme on climate change and human health at Madhya Pradesh department of health and family welfare, said that the state has drawn a plan of action on climate change and human health and is making efforts that will help to reduce air pollution.

She said that air pollution affects mortality rate among children under five years of age and also maternal mortality. Research shows that prenatal exposure to pollutants can increase the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight, which in turn causes high child and maternal. 

In a destructive feedback loop, air pollution not only contributes to climate change but is also exacerbated by it, Bajaj added.

In her presentation, the officer further said that more than half of deaths due to pneumonia in children who are under five years of age are due to particulate matter inhaled from hazardous air pollutants due to bio-mass fuels. Halving of hazardous air pollution exposure reduces severe pneumonia by 33 percent. Larger exposure reduction may further reduce the risk.

Speaking at the meet, Sarbjit Singh Sahota, emergency specialist, UNICEF India said that Madhya Pradesh has taken a great step forward by having a state plan for action on climate change for human health.

“Now we need to make sure that we focus on its implementation and look towards developing district wise source apportionment studies through a community-based process, in particular for high air polluting districts in MP. This will help in identifying the areas that contribute to higher pollution, so that the state government could start work at the source level,” Sahota said.

Dr Vandana Bhatia. health specialist, UNICEF Madhya Pradesh spoke about the need to change mindset to bring about reduction in air pollution that impacts children and women. Anil Gulati, communication specialist, UNICEF Madhya Pradesh, facilitated the meet and introduced the subject.

Dr Sonali Nargunde, Head of Department of DAVV, Indore said that students had a lot to learn and will make use of the information gathered at the meeting to contribute media stories on the theme of air pollution. Girish Updhayaya, senior journalist was also present at the meeting and offered his portal to students for sharing their news stories.