In a report released Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said air pollution was responsible for the deaths of over one lakh children under age 5 in India in 2016, and over 7,000 children between ages 5 and 14. In both age groups, the death rate was much higher among girls than among boys. Under age 5, air pollution accounted for the death of nearly 55,000 girls (death rate 96.6 per lakh) and nearly 47,000 boys (74.3 per lakh). In the age group 5-14, the children who died comprised over 4,000 girls (death rate 3.4 per lakh) and over 3,000 boys (2.3 per lakh). Both genders taken together, the death rate in India was 84.8 per lakh among children under 5, and 2.9 per lakh in the age group 5-14.
These were out of about six lakh children below the age of 15 who died due to air pollution across the world in 2016. Air pollution accounted for more child deaths in India than in any of its neighbours, including China. However, Myanmar and Pakistan had the highest death rate among these countries, in both age groups.
The report also looked at proportions of children who are exposed to levels of PM2.5 higher than the WHO air quality guideline levels. These are as follow:
- 93% of all children, and about 630 million children under age 5 in the world
- 100% of all children under 5 in WHO African and Eastern Mediterranean regions
- 52% of children under 5 in high-income countries
- 98% of all children under 5 in all low- and middle-income countries
- 99% of all children under 5 in the low- and middle-income countries in the Southeast Asia Region
- 98% of all children under 5 in low- and middle-income countries in the Western Pacific Region
- 87% of all children under 5 in low- and middle-income countries in the Region of the Americas
This Word Means | Adenovirus
The virus behind fatal outbreak in US health facility
AN ONGOING outbreak has killed nine people, mostly under age 18, at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, New Jersey. It is being described as an adenovirus outbreak. Adenoviruses are viruses that populate the lining of the airways, intestines, eyes or urinary tract. They can cause colds, pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, conjunctivitis and urinary infections. There are dozens of strains; the one involved in this outbreak is adenovirus 7. While it is generally agreed that deaths from adenoviruses are rare, they pose a greater risk to people with weakened immune systems, such as the children at the New Jersey facility. The health news portal MedicalXpress quoted Dr Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital (New York), as saying: “Adenovirus 7 is particularly dangerous and may lead to significant respiratory complications, including pneumonia.” Yet for the vast majority of children, adenovirus infection “is generally more benign”, he stressed.
Live Science magazine quoted Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security (not involved in the outbreak investigation), as saying that deaths fom adenovirus may not be as uncommon as thought. Adenovirus can be a cause of severe pneumonia, but “often times [doctors] say this person got pneumonia, and they never figure out” what caused it, Adalja told Live Science.