10 Facts On Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments
Environmental hazards are responsible for about a quarter of the total burden of disease worldwide, and as much as 30% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. As many as 13 million deaths can be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.
This fact file highlights the impact of environmental factors on public health. Some of the images used in this fact file are winning entries from the 2007 WHO ICF photo and video contest focusing on the theme "health and environment".
Worldwide, 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.
In children under the age of five, one third of all disease is caused by the environmental factors such as unsafe water and air pollution.
Every year, the lives of four million children under 5 years – mostly in developing countries – could be saved by preventing environmental risks such as unsafe water and polluted air.
In developing countries, the main environmentally caused diseases are diarrhoeal disease, lower respiratory infections, unintentional injuries, and malaria.
Better environmental management could prevent 40% of deaths from malaria, 41% of deaths from lower respiratory infections, and 94% of deaths from diarrhoeal disease – three of the world's biggest childhood killers.
In the least developed countries, one third of death and disease is a direct result of environmental causes.
In developed countries, healthier environments could significantly reduce the incidence of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, musculoskeletal diseases, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.
Environmental factors influence 85 out of the 102 categories of diseases and injuries listed in The world health report.
Much of this death, illness and disability could be prevented through well targeted interventions such as promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures and the use of cleaner and safer fuels.
Other interventions that can make environments healthier include: increasing the safety of buildings; promoting safe, careful use and management of toxic substances at home and in the workplace; and better water resource management.