Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi today said health is a key indicator of sustainable development of the country and emphasised on the need to shift from curative to preventive healthcare. She stressed on the need to adopt eco-friendly approaches to enhance the quality of life of people.
The emerging health problems and diseases are associated with various environmental aspects, including air pollution, water and sanitation, unplanned development, over-dependence on pesticides in agriculture and impact of climate change, the parliamentarian said. Holistic planning for sustainable development is crucial to meet the challenges of a growing population along with healthy development, she said at the CII Conference on Sustainable Development and Health Challenges in India held here.
Lekhi also released a theme paper on the impact of air pollution, water and sanitation challenges, and climate change on human health. The paper said the temperature in India is projected to rise by 1.7 to two degrees by 2030 leading to an increase in diseases, including severe respiratory problems like asthma, and even death.
It says, asthma deaths in the country are expected to rise by almost 20 per cent in the next 10 years if steps to combat climate change are not undertaken. Last year, Delhi and the national capital region has witnessed nearly eight times higher levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 — the deadliest components of air pollution.
Deaths related to ambient air pollution have risen, especially in heavily populated urban areas. A recent study has found that half of Delhi’s 4.4 million school children would never recover full lung capacity, the paper said. Deputy Director General of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Seema Arora stressed that this is an existential crisis and there is an immediate need to look at things in a holistic manner.
Vijay Iyer, the managing director of Rio Tinto, a mining firm, spoke about how sustainable development goals (SDGs) are linked to health. “In India, many health issues are directly or indirectly related to climate change”, he said, adding many initiatives, such as International Solar Alliance of over 100 countries to drive faster and dramatic change in the field of solar energy, have been undertaken.
Initiatives for improving sanitation, like Swachh Shakti 2017, Swachhta Action Plans (SAP), Swachh Sangrah (Knowledge Management Portal), have been undertaken by the government.