Regular exercise is recognised as providing significant lifestyle-related protection against non-communicable diseases. It can also reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. By contrast, long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, leading to premature death.
Outdoor exercise might increase the inhalation and deposition of air pollutants, potentially counteracting its beneficial effects. Evaluation of this risk–benefit relationship has become an important public health concern because more than 91% of the global population lives in areas where air quality fails to meet the 2005 World Health Organization guidelines.
Many people around the world are still using biomass as a fuel for cooking and heating. Inefficient combustion of solid fuels is the primary cause of indoor household air pollution, estimated to be responsible for 4.3 million premature deaths in 2012 (7.7% of total mortality).
The World Health Organization’s latest global air quality guidelines point out that indoor air pollution causes a health burden that mostly affects people in low- and middle-income countries. Many global development agencies are working with governments of developing countries to reduce household air pollution. For example, China’s Relocation Program in the poorest provinces is a significant part of China’s poverty eradication plans. This large-scale program relocates millions of residents in absolute poverty to places with better living conditions, including fuel type.
For children in low-income countries, diarrhoea
remains a major cause of death and can lead to long-term health consequences. Accurate
estimates of childhood diarrhoeal illness are crucial to evaluating the success
of campaigns to defeat diarrhoea and improve health in countries where the
burden of diarrhoea is high.
In our study, recently published in the IJE, we found that caregivers may underestimate diarrhoeal diseases in children aged under 5 years when asked to recall whether the children had diarrhoea in the previous 2 weeks. Compared with a 1-week recall period, there was a consistent underestimation of the prevalence of diarrhoea across five countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Suman Chakrabarti, Md Tajuddin Khan and Samuel Scott
Respiratory infections are the most common
chronic disease in children globally and a leading cause of death in developing
countries. This situation is exacerbated by air pollution.
Air pollution in northern India, mainly New Delhi and the neighbouring states, is exacting a toll on the health of residents, making global headlines and highlighting the severity and extent of this public health disaster in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
A contributory factor to air pollution in northern India is the harmful practice of crop residue burning — when farmers burn the crop residue to clear fields before sowing a new crop. Although banned by the Indian government in 2015, this practice remains prevalent in many parts of the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Jennyfer Wolf, Richard Johnston, Matthew C Freeman and Annette Prüss-Ustün
Handwashing with soap after faecal contact is key to preventing disease and death from enteric infectious diseases. Our study, recently published in the IJE, is the first to provide global, regional and country estimates of handwashing with soap after potential contact with human faeces, based on representative data on access to handwashing facilities collected for monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our results show that handwashing with soap after using the toilet or other potential contact with human faeces is poorly practised worldwide and that even the necessary equipment – handwashing facilities with soap and water – are inaccessible to billions of people.
Alba Ripoll Gallardo, Barbara Pacelli and Elias Allara
Population growth and urbanisation of seismic areas are leading to a constant increase in the health-related and economic toll of earthquakes. In 2014 alone, 324 natural disasters were reported worldwide, resulting in 141 million casualties and nearly $100 billion in damage. Geophysical disasters, including earthquakes, accounted for about 10% of these events.
Although the impact of earthquakes in the response phase – that is, immediately or shortly after the main seismic event – has been well studied, we have little knowledge of the effects of earthquakes in the medium and long term. This uncertainty may cause inefficient planning of post-earthquake epidemiological surveillance, resulting in potential underestimation of public health needs.