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What's the Leading Killer of Children Around the Globe?

Pollution Eclipses Ebola And HIV as Leading Global Cause of Child Deaths

The World Health Organization releases an alarming new report which states that environmental pollution is now the leading cause of global deaths in children under 5, surpassing Ebola and HIV.

A disturbing new report released by the World Health Organization this week states that pollution is now a greater global health threat than both Ebola and HIV, especially to young children. The report shows a direct link between a polluted environment and the top leading causes of child mortality. The recent research shows that environmental pollution is actually increasing the rates of the most common worldwide causes of child mortality, such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia.

The statistics in the WHO report are both staggering and saddening. According to the report, more than 1.7 million children’s deaths per year are attributed to environmental hazards. Nearly half of these deaths are caused by respiratory infections attributed to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Another third are caused by poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. “A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” stated WHO director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan.

“Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water,” adds Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO. “Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits."

The WHO says at least one quarter of these deaths could have been prevented if many of these pollution issues were directly addressed by governments, and that urgent and immediate action is needed to improve these conditions in order to combat this alarming epidemic.

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