A damning report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that in every ten people who live in cities in middle-income countries; at least nine breathe poor quality air.
The Ambient Air Pollution Database (2016) report also indicates that 98 per cent of all people living in towns do so under conditions that clearly do not adhere to WHO air quality standards.
In Kenya, there has been an upsurge in respiratory infections, an occurrence, no doubt, that has its genesis in the bad air we inhale from an environment that has been subjected to heavy industrial pollution.
In an earlier report, a study undertaken jointly by the University of Nairobi and Sweden’s Gotenburg revealed Nairobians, especially, inhaled air that had cancer causing elements ten times higher than levels recommended by the World Health Organisation as being safe. In the end, this has led to an increase in lung and heart degrees. In 2013, for instance, a survey by the National Bureau of statistics showed 14.8 million cases of respiratory infections had been reported.
The increased number of residents seeking medical attention for heart and lung diseases attests to this. But while these alarming statistics should cause relevant authorities to not only note but embark on measures that would ensure environmental pollution is kept to a minimum, there is little evidence of this being undertaken.
The Air Quality Regulations passed by the National Assembly and gazetted in 2014 to protect the air that Kenyans breathe from further devastation should be enforced.
The National Environmental Management Authority must show it has some muscle by taking its work seriously. A situation where people, who are basically the engine that drives our economy spend more time seeking medical treatment in facilities that are either over stretched or lack requisite machines, impacts negatively on the economy. Kenya can surely do without that.