Healthify Blog

Unhealthy Environments Cause a Quarter of Deaths Globally, But Who is Hit the Hardest?

The World Health Organization announced this week that nearly one out of every four deaths on the planet is caused by unhealthy environments, but can you guess who bears the brunt of environmental risk factors?
Unsurprisingly, it's mostly the poor, the WHO found.
The new WHO report said that out of the roughly 12.6 million environment-related deaths in 2012, low- and middle-income countries in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific regions had the largest disease burden, with a total of 7.3 million deaths, most attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Meanwhile, deaths due to non-communicable diseases -- which are mostly attributable to air pollution and include heart disease and cancer -- make up 8.2 million or nearly two-thirds of environment-related deaths, according to the WHO.
Other deaths were attributed to infectious diseases due to poor water, sanitation and waste management; unintentional injuries such as road traffic deaths; and other causes.
The role that physical environments play in people's health is inextricably bound up with the social determinants of health -- factors such as poverty, education, food and housing.
The impoverished are more likely to have poor housing; poor access to clean water and sanitation services; and poor diets. In line with that reality, it's no surprise that they are more greatly affected by pollution in the environment.
Heathify's hope is to efficiently connect those belonging to this disadvantaged population to social programs that can help them in areas such as food, housing and job placement, with the goal of getting them away from problems like pollution and onto the path toward good health.
Topics: social determinants of health health disparities