Around 3.5 million people in the Western Pacific die each year as a result of environmental causes, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data released on Thursday.
In a virtual press conference, Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves, typhoons, floods, and wildfires affect people’s health in various parts of the region, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the WHO data, every 14 seconds, a person dies from air pollution in the Western Pacific.
The WHO also warned that rising sea levels and increasing tropical storms reduce access to freshwater, degrade beaches and reefs, and threaten the lives and livelihoods of the people in the Pacific islands.
Increases in vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, food and safe drinking water insecurity, land degradation, and extreme weather events will further strain these health systems and disproportionately impact the most vulnerable.
“Today, pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans and the highest mountains and have made their way into our food chain,” the WHO said on Monday in a press release titled “Health and the environment.”
“It is very clear, the time to act is now,” Kasai said, warning that “if we don’t take action today, we are risking our health in the future.”