This week, the training for the peer educators under the Young Health Program by Plan International continued in Mathare, Nairobi. As the facilitator and the trainer, I led the peer educators in demystifying the link between Air Pollution and NCDs.
According to Global NCD Alliance, climate change (air pollution being among the causes) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are two of the defining challenges of the 21st century, each posing significant threats to health and sustainable development. It is projected that climate change will have increasingly damaging effects on communities and economies over the coming decades, being set to cause several hundred thousand deaths annually by 2030. At the same time, NCDs, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and mental and neurological disorders are already responsible for 68 percent of global mortality2 – a proportion which continues to grow.
In training the Peer Educators, we explored some of the activities that has led to air pollution such as the fumes from vehicles, factory activities, burning of materials especially plastics, dust particles among others. We also talked about indoor air pollution which is a major concern as far as NCDs are concerned. Available evidence from the WHO reveals that air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths annually. Of these, approximately 4 million are attributable to indoor air pollution, due primarily to unclean cookstoves, heating and lighting methods (using solid fuels such as charcoal, wood and crop waste. In keeping with this global statistics, I led the peer educators in discussing some of the things that can be done to address the growing cases of NCDs as a result of Air Pollution.
The discussion culminated into a conversation around young people and air pollution. Some of the questions we answered are related to how young people are affected by Air Pollution in comparison to adult and how that increases the cases of NCDs among the young people.
The training ended with the Peer Educators confessing that the training on Air Pollution has helped them gain in-depth understanding on how it links with NCDs and that they are now fully equipped to deliver the module in schools and communities.