There are different classes of diseases with different causes. Some diseases are genetic, meaning that someone born into a specific family could face a higher chance of developing a certain disease. Some diseases can develop from lifestyle habits practiced over time. There are also many diseases that develop based on environmental issues where a person lives and spends their time. A lot of work and research has been done to pinpoint and help eliminate the harmful effects of a person’s environment on their health. Some of the main issues are discussed here.
Many different factors can contribute to an unhealthy environment. There are communicable diseases that stem and spread in areas with poor sanitation, inadequate water supplies, as well as poor waste disposal. Diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid are some of the global examples of these. These are all spread by pathogens, which thrive when water and sanitation issues are not addressed properly.
There are also several non-communicable diseases that can also be related to environmental issues. In this case, pathogens are not behind the development of these diseases. Environmental factors such as air, soil, and water pollution might be at play. Air pollution can originate from industrial factories and power stations, from the domestic burning of various fuels, from the wide use of motor vehicles, and also from second-hand tobacco smoke. Other environmental issues of concern include chemical exposure, UV radiation, and also climate change.
Some of the diseases in this category of non-communicable diseases include cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases. Most of the time, these diseases take time to develop, but certain events and incidents can accelerate that development.
A Matter Requiring Urgency
The strategies to fight the communicable diseases mentioned are well-established. Quick diagnosis and medical treatment are required whenever there is a potential outbreak. The public health sectors of the affected countries also have a major role to play in creating safe environments that eliminate a lot of the risks. This involves building better water and sanitation facilities, effective treating of water, timely waste collection, and continuing education about sanitation and disease prevention. Because of all these measures, communicable diseases have been on the decline.
What is rising is the level of non-communicable diseases. These require new and more effective strategies to deal with them. Legislation has a major role to play in putting measures in place to curb industrial and even individual pollution. Manufacturing companies need to continue to be held accountable for the pollution they contribute to the air and water. Although the effects of this may not be seen immediately, down the line or down the water stream, the harmful chemicals released could contribute to chemical poisoning for those affected.
The global numbers for the effects of an unhealthy environment are startling. This requires a push from public health services and global bodies. The World Health Organization (WHO) released some figures a few years ago about the combined totals for diseases caused by unhealthy environments in different parts of the world. They found that the low and middle-income sections of society were the most affected, although many non-communicable diseases were also high in the high-income group. The highest cause of environmental-related deaths was stroke, followed by heart diseases, then unintentional accidents, and cancer. Many environmental risks were found to mostly affect children under five years and adults in the 50-75 year bracket, the most vulnerable age groups.
There is a lot that needs to be done to fight environmental diseases globally. It requires collaboration between the medical field, governments, countries, research, and environmental experts.