The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has held a one-day stakeholder engagement for community leaders, traders and vendors on urban health Initiative aimed at improving air quality in the city.
The essence of the engagement is to help reduce air pollution-related diseases such as lung disorders, stroke and blood pressure which had been on the increase in recent years, explain the Assembly’s waste segregation programme as well as the effects of air pollution and its health impacts on city dwellers.
Speaking at the event held on Thursday at the City hall in Accra, Mr Desmond Appiah, the Chief Sustainability Advisor to the Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, said the Assembly decided to bring together stakeholders who were vulnerable to poor air quality and whose actions may be leading to pollution in the air to appreciate the consequences of air pollution.
“This project has been going on for about a year now, we have engaged selected communities, churches, schools among others and today we believe that it was right to bring together street vendors, informal waste collectors and pickers, market women as well as transport operators to have an appreciation on the sale of the challenge and what can be done about it. We think the first step is getting data and sharing the information,” he said.
He reiterated that the indiscriminate burning of waste, fumes from vehicles and unclean cooking methods were a leading cause of air pollution in the city adding that in Ghana, 1000 people die of air pollution.
He admonished women ” to adopt the use of clean cooking methods such as stoves and LPG gas in their homes, indicating that the practice would go a long way to help in the fight against air pollution.”
Mr Appiah also appealed to city dwellers to desist from waste burning and encouraged them to segregate their waste before giving them to the accredited waste collectors.
He revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had introduced a law to prohibit vehicles that produce fumes in the city and arrest the driver.
Dr Kofi Amegah, a Senior Lecturer of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, at The University of Cape Coast, in a presentation on “Air pollution in Accra City: Vulnerable Populations, Health Impacts and Interventions” said air pollution was a major environmental risk to health and by reducing air pollution levels countries could reduce health conditions such as strokes, heart disease as well as lung cancer among others.
He said major sources of air pollution in Accra were vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, resuspended road dust, emissions from landfill sites, power generation plants, use of solid fuels for domestic and commercial cooking and solid waste burning at home.
He disclosed that 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution adding that among these deaths 34 per cent, 21 per cent and 20 per cent were from Ischaemic heart diseases, pneumonia and strokes respectively.
He said 19 per cent of the deaths associated with air pollution were also from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) while 7 per cent were from lung cancer.
He pointed out that air pollution was the presence of substances in the atmosphere that were harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials some of which he said could be solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane and chlorofluorocarbons, particulates, both organic and inorganic biological molecules.
He noted that it was the responsibility of every individual to ensure the cleanliness of the city and appealed to drivers to also service their vehicles regularly to reduce pollution.
” I would like to advise that we patronise public transport, ride bicycles and use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) instead of using firewood,” he said.
This engagement forms part of the Urban Health Initiative’s BreatheLife Accra project which is in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) with support from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).