The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has appealed to journalist to use their media platforms to sensitise citizens on the dangers of air pollution to their health, the society and environment.
Speaking at media sensitisation workshop on improved air quality and health in Accra organised by the AMA with support from the World Health Organisation as part of the Urban Health Initiative (UHI), Chief Resilience and Sustainability Advisor to the Mayor of Accra, Mr Desmond Appiah, said journalists have a crucial role to play to effectively create the awareness with the aim of channelling the appropriate information on air pollution and the dangers it poses to humans and the environment.
He pointed out that the issue of air pollution was extremely important to the assembly because of its health impact on city dwellers hence the decision to join the UHI program in 2017, adding that air pollution was a silent killer, killing about 28000 people in the country annually.
“The challenges of air pollution and its impact on health is massive for us in Accra. We have been very conscious of the challenges that affect the city as well as things that can break the city down and as such developed strategies and signed agreements with local and international stakeholders to help address the issue, “he said.
He intimated that the city of Accra was the first in Africa to join the Breathlife Campaign led by WHO, the Climate & Clean Air Coalition and the Government of Norway, as part of efforts to raise awareness about the health risks of short-lived climate pollutants, which contribute significantly to global warming and air pollution.
“Through the campaign, we are creating awareness and bringing to the fore the issues of waste burning and its impact on health, promoting waste segregation in basic and secondary schools as well as tertiary institution in the city, encouraging tree planting in schools and adopting efficient stove and fuel alternatives for cooking as well as creating of green parks, " he said.
Programmes Officer at the Environmental Quality Department of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an address announced that the agency was partnering the World Bank to install improved Air Quality Monitoring sensors in the city to generate and discriminate real-time data on air quality effective June next year.
He said Ghana has an annual mean concentration of 31.1ug/m3 of particle matter of air pollutants compared to the WHO annual recommended guideline of 10 ug/m3.
The National Programme Manager of World Health Organization (WHO), Gordon Dakuu, explained that the UHI was instituted to fight against air pollution in cities and reduce deaths and diseases caused by air and climate pollutants.
He stressed the need for a change in attitude towards the adoption of greener technology to help improve the air quality in the city adding that over 80% of urban dwellers are exposed to polluted air coming from transport, industry and waste.
Mr Mohammed Aminu Lukumanu Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Alliance for Clean Cook stoves also appealed to the media to educate the public on the use of clean stoves and fuels.
“I encourage you all to use your reach and influence to educate the public by switching from the use of charcoal to LPG. This will protect them from the smoke of the charcoal which causes a lot of respiratory diseases,” he urged.
Mrs Comfort Kugblenu, the Deputy Director of Nursing Service (GHS) called for attitudinal change if Ghana wants to make progress in the fight against air pollution.
"A report by (WHO) indicates that a large number of the global pollution breath polluted air, air pollution is a global public health emergency causing seven million deaths each year, everyone is at risk of being affected with cardiovascular diseases such as Respiratory Tract Infections, Cardiovascular diseases, Pneumonia, Asthma, Lung cancer, Stroke among others, "she said.