By Ebi Kesiena
Stakeholders in Accra have disclosed that air pollution has been identified as a contributor to the growing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), making it a major public health concern in the capital.
The revelation, established by an investigation by the University of Ghana on clean air in Accra, noted that the NCDs of concern to include lung cancer, chronic ischaemic heart diseases and acute respiratory infections (pneumonia) in children.
The investigation was part of a global partnership project, dubbed: “The Pathway to Equitable Healthy Cities Project”, that sought to improve population health, enhance health equity and ensure environmental sustainability in cities worldwide.
According to Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Prof. Raphael Arku the national transport system needs to be overhauled to improve health outcomes in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area.
Prof. Arku stressed that Accra was rapidly urbanising, and that was resulting in high demand for energy and transportation, which had an impact on air quality.
He added that Accra was currently composed of a diverse mixture of combustion and non-combustion sources of air pollution thereby exposing residents to risk.
Also, Professor at the Kings College, London, Prof. Frans Berkhout, said there was a well-established link between air pollution and human health, particularly conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and dementia.
While, Prof. Agyei-Mensah called on authorities within the space, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), to ensure that vehicles on the road were actually road worthy and were not emitting unacceptable levels of emissions.
He also recommended that the capacity of the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service be built to enable the agency to test for illegal levels of vehicle emission on the spot and keep such vehicles off the road, adding that this would ensure clearer and cleaner air for all.