Acute respiratory illness linked to air pollution is one of the top 10 reported out patient cases in healthcare centres in Ghana.
The Deputy Director of Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), Mr Emmanuel Appoh, who disclosed this to The Mirror, said the trend had pushed respiratory diseases to the second spot as one of the top killer diseases in Ghana, after malaria.
He said emissions from rickety vehicles, open burning of refuse and plastic/electronic waste, bush burning, industrial pollution among others were contributing to the pollution of the atmosphere.
According to health experts, more than 6.5 million people in the world die annually as a result of exposure to air pollution with children and women being the worst affected.
Mr Appoh, therefore, called for the removal of rickety vehicles from the roads: adoption of proper farming methods and the enforcement of regulations on waste burning.
He explained that in 1997, the agency started an air quality assessment in the country using air monitoring stations categorised into residential, commercial, industrial and roadside.
Mr Appoh said due to inadequate supply of air monitors the agency adopted a USEPA portable air monitors with filters which were mounted at vantage points in most suburbs of Accra to prevent dust, emissions from vehicles, bush and open burning from getting into the respiratory tract of humans.
He, however, explained that the filters in the monitors could not completely expunge the menace but reduced it.
A visit by The Mirror team to some principal areas of Accra including Agbogbloshie, Adabraka, Kaneshie and Chorkor revealed some of the habits contributing to air pollution.
For instance, a resident of Agbogbloshie, who was spotted burning refuse told The Mirror, “We cannot quit burning refuse around the vicinity. Else we would not be able to stay here for a minute. The stench will kill us faster than the emission from the burning refuse”.
Ibrahim Mahammudu admitted that even though he had heard of the health implications of air pollution, there was no other option than to burn the refuse to reduce the overpowering stench it emits.
According to him, almost all the market women and the residents in the community dumped their refuse at the site and since the stench was unbearable, the only option left was to resort to burning in spite of the health risks.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to put measures in place to recycle all waste products to improve the health of citizens
Many residents in other suburbs gave a similar account of the situation.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Driver Vehicle License Authority (DVLA), Mr Francis Asamoah Tuffour, told The Mirror that the authority and the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service would soon clamp down on drivers who use rickety vehicles on the road.
He, therefore, advised drivers to present their vehicles for inspection and certification before using them.