The third annual celebration of International Day of Clear Air for blue skies was yesterday celebrated in Accra, on the theme “The air we share.”
The day, set aside by the United Nation (UN) Environment is to raise awareness and rally global players to address the causes of air pollution and related health threats, while keeping conversations broad enough to encompass other critical issues such as climate change, human and planetary health for sustainable development.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, explained that the burden of diseases associated with air pollution accounted for 7 million global deaths annually.
“These diseases include cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, upper and lower respiratory tract infections which is most severe in low and middle-income countries where pollutant levels exceed national and that is a major concern to the international community,” he said.
Dr Kokofu enumerated measures, as part of EPA’s mandate to co-manage protect and enhance the country’s biophysical environment, and seek common solutions to global environmental challenges.
“The establishment and maintenance of air quality monitoring network in Accra, installation of state-of-the-art regulatory grade real-time air quality monitors at Adabraka and University of Ghana Campus.
“Capacity building of Ghanaian scientists drawn from various institutions in air quality monitoring, analysis, interpretation, data management, modelling and forecast,” he mentioned.
Others are the implementation of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Air Quality Management Plan, aimed at bringing air pollution in Greater Accra below the National Standards by 2025.
The rest are commissioning of an Environmentally Sound Disposal and Recycling of E-Waste in Ghana, to reduce pollution and dangerous toxic gas emissions, and the provision of sustainable low emission transport strategies, including soot-free bus standards, electric mobility and motor vehicle inventory and fuel economy standards.
The Minister of Environmental Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie, in a speech read for him said the government was aware of the importance of air quality management in the country.
He assured of the government’s commitment to providing the needed support to EPA to establish more networks of monitoring stations across the country, to help reduce the burden of diseases associated with air pollution in Ghana.
“There is so much we can do to improve air quality and we must all play our part together, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that, future generations breathe cleaner air,” he said.
Dr Afriyie, therefore, pledged his support to the deployment of air monitors across the major cities in Ghana, and assist in policy formulations while urging regulators, researchers, academia, and NGOs to use the information from the monitors to improve public understanding on air pollution, and its health impacts in both urban and rural areas.
BY ANITA ANKRAH