Urban Health Initiative in Accra reviewed

BY: Rejoice Lavinia Eklu

Data recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that over 28,000 Ghanaians prematurely lost their lives to air pollution in 2016.

The Ag. Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Emmanuel Appoh, confirmed that the country had currently exceeded the national and international acceptable air quality standard.

Air quality standards are health-based guidelines which seek to establish the concentrations of air pollutants to which the public can be exposed to in a lifetime without significant adverse effects.

Mr Appoh entreated Ghanaians to stop burning indiscriminately. He encouraged the use of cleaner fuel to prevent the release of toxic chemicals into the air.

Workshop

He was speaking at the opening of a workshop organised by the WHO in collaboration with the University of Ghana (UG) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to review and discuss phase one of the Accra Urban Health Initiative (UHI) project in Accra.

The 4-day workshop had stakeholders and partners from different countries across the globe joining online and physically to review the project.

The UHI project which was implemented by WHO was aimed at promoting healthier urban environments in Accra.

Phase one of the project focused on the implementation of strategies to reduce air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants as well as to establish the link between climate, air pollutants and health.

Analysis

The WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo, indicated that under the project, an analysis was conducted on the sources of air pollution through an established network of institutions working in Africa.

Meanwhile, the acting Director-General of the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Mr Eric Asuman, said there were plans to start air quality forecast in the country.

“It will help policymakers to put in place measures to reduce the level of poor air quality in the system,” he said.

For his part, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana in charge of Research, Innovation and Development, Prof. Felix Asante, said the implementation of the UHI project impacted Accra positively.

“Through the UHI project, Accra has become a global leader in addressing air pollution and mitigating climate,” he said.

Green Space

A lecturer from the Department of Geography and Resource Development, UG, Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, mentioned sanitation, transportation, climate change and waste management to be the key pathways to health and these informed the objectives of the phase one of the UHI project.

“For instance, transportation can give emission for air pollution and air pollution affects health. So these pathways have to be looked at,” he stated.