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Pollution likely to cut 9 years of life expectancy of 40% of Indians

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(Last Updated On: September 1, 2021)

Air pollution is likely to reduce the life expectancy of about 40% of Indians by more than nine years, according to a report released by a U.S. research group on Wednesday.

More than 480 million people living in the vast swathes of central, eastern and northern India, including the capital, New Delhi, endure significantly high pollution levels, said the report prepared by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

“Alarmingly, India’s high levels of air pollution have expanded geographically over time,” the EPIC report said.

For example, air quality has significantly worsened in the western state of Maharashtra and the central state of Madhya Pradesh, it said.

Lauding India’s National Clean Air Program (NCAP), launched in 2019 to rein in dangerous pollution levels, the EPIC report said “achieving and sustaining” the NCAP goals would raise the country’s overall life expectancy by 1.7 years and that of New Delhi 3.1 years, Reuters reported.

The NCAP aims to reduce pollution in the 102 worst-affected cities by 20%-30% by 2024 by ensuring cuts in industrial emissions and vehicular exhaust, introducing stringent rules for transport fuels and biomass burning and reduce dust pollution. It will also entail better monitoring systems.

New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020, according to IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5.

Last year, New Delhi’s 20 million residents, who breathed some of the cleanest air on record in the summer because of coronavirus lockdown curbs, battled toxic air in winter following a sharp increase in farm residue burning in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, Reuters reported.

According to the EPIC’s findings, neighbouring Bangladesh could raise average life expectancy by 5.4 years if the country improves air quality to levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

To arrive at the life expectancy number, EPIC compared the health of people exposed to different levels of long-term air pollution and applied the results to various places in India and elsewhere.

Health

WHO concerned about worsening access in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The World Health Organization is concerned about worsening access to provide life-saving medicines and supplies in Afghanistan and attacks on health care facilities, as Afghan forces fight Taliban insurgents, a WHO official said on Friday.

Rick Brennan, WHO regional emergencies director for its Eastern Mediterranean regional office, said that aid supplies would arrive next week including 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and oxygen concentrators.

“It is a terribly concerning situation and it’s very fluid right now,” Brennan, speaking from Cairo, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. “We are concerned about our lack of access to be able to provide essential medicines and supplies and we are concerned about attacks on health care.”

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Health

China reports first ever human case of H10N3 bird flu

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2021)

A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported the man, a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalised on April 28 after developing a fever and other symptoms, the NHC said in a statement.

He was diagnosed as having the H10N3 avian influenza virus on May 28, it said, but did not give details on how the man had been infected with the virus.

The man was stable and ready to be discharged from hospital. Medical observation of his close contacts had not found any other cases, Reuters reported.

H10N3 is a low pathogenic, or relatively less severe, strain of the virus in poultry and the risk of it spreading on a large scale was very low, the NHC added.

The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Reuters reported.

Only around 160 incidents of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018, mostly in wild birds or waterfowl in Asia and some limited parts of North America, and none had been detected in chickens so far, he added.

No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have previously been reported globally, the NHC said.

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Health

Playing PUBG war game harms mental health: Psychologists

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2021)

The Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), a popular multiplayer online gaming, could harm the mental well-being of the players, Psychologists said.

According to Psychologists, a continuous play of the game could lead to game addiction, health issues like neck pain, and weakening of eyesight, and behavioral issues such as aggressive thoughts among teenagers.

PUBG, developed by Chinese technology giant Tencent, has around one million active users in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) in December 2020, decided to ban the PUBG in the country, but the game is still accessible.

Saeed Shinwari, a spokesman for ATRA, told Ariana News: “based on demands of families, we have decided to ban the game, and we have also informed the telecommunication companies to limited access [to the game] on websites.”

Some Psychologists believe that excessive excitement in this anxious game has caused mental disorders in dozens of PUBG players. 

Omulbanin Sadaat, a Psychologist stated: “This game is dangerous at all and causes mental disorders and brain fissures.”

Psychiatrists, however, rejected the claims, stating that playing games could have positive impacts but gaming hours must be limited and players must also engage in other activities such as sports and studying.

“These games have their benefits like technology. The timing of playing games must be managed in order to prevent its side effects,” Bashir Ahmad Sarwar, head of the mental health department of the Ministry of Public Health said.

PUBG got famous during the pandemic lockdown and it was one of the most gamed played in the period and helped players to cope with seclusion. 

Currently, the game reportedly has around 300,000 active users across the world.

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