Mrs Samira Bawumia, Wife of the Vice President, has expressed concern about the lack of air quality monitoring systems to deal with air pollution in Africa and called for concerted efforts to tackle the phenomenon head-on.
She explained that the situation has retarded the fight against air pollution in Africa because it is almost impossible to know the magnitude of resources to commit towards tackling the menace.
She alluded to the inability of African countries to meet the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), saying; “About 97 per cent of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants in developing countries do not meet the WHO air quality guidelines”.
Mrs Bawumia made these remarks at the opening plenary of the first-ever World Health Organisation Conference on Air Pollution and Health in Geneva, Switzerland.
The wife of the Vice President, who doubles as a Global Ambassador for Clean Cooking Alliance, re-echoed the negative effects of air pollution on the environment.
The Alliance is a public-private partnership hosted by the United Nations Foundation, aimed at saving lives, improving livelihoods, empowering women, and protecting the environment.
Mrs Bawumia said ‘dirty energies’ employed by women worldwide, particularly in Africa and Asia for cooking, also contributed to air pollution.
She said some seven million “avoidable and unacceptable deaths” resulting from diseases such as stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer and acute lower respiratory infections were ripple effects of air pollutions, and often occurred among populations living in settings exceeding the WHO’s air quality limits.
Mrs Bawumia, however, commended the WHO’s efforts in bringing together global, national and local partners to share knowledge and mobilise action for cleaner and better health across the world.
She called for increased discussion and conversations on the issue, saying; “Let’s continue this conversation while placing emphasis on the target regions in particular.”
“This would require bringing them to the discussion table, getting their buy-in and finding champions in those countries to ensure successful partnerships.”
“In doing so, let us engage African leaders, policy makers, experts, and civil societies, while building local capacity; local solutions require local participation and ownership.”
The issues of health and healthy wellbeing among Ghanaians, particularly women, have been at the top of the agenda of Mrs Samira Bawumia through the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Project (SEHP).
The SEHP is a not-for-profit organisation, established with the purpose of empowering the underprivileged in Ghana through diverse social intervention projects to improve lives.
Under the SEHP, the wife of the Vice President has initiated a number of interventions in the areas of health, education and empowerment, with special emphasis on women.
Notable amongst them is the ‘Safe Delivery Project,’ an initiative that seeks to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in deprived communities.
The safe delivery project endeavours to distribute 100,000 birth kits to expectant mothers in their third trimester in deprived communities.
Additionally, the project has trained traditional birth attendants and several health workers and equipped selected health facilities in deprived communities.
It has, so far, retooled the Tamale Teaching Hospital and four health centres, as well as 10 Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds, with the necessary medical and surgical equipment as well as medical consumables.
On the education front, the ‘Library-In-A-Box’ project, an initiative by the SEHP, has distributed 35,000 books to 35 schools in seven regions across the country, which would benefit about 40,000 pupils.
This is to improve literacy and instil a culture of reading amongst pupils in Ghana.
The SEHP, with support from the United Nations Population Fund, has launched a Coalition of People against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices.
Mrs Bawumia was recently named as the African Woman of Excellence by the African Union Commission and the Diasporan African Forum in Johannesburg for her contribution to the course of humanity.
By: Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA