New World Bank Report Warns of Health Crisis by Poor AQI


by Hamna Bano

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A recent World Bank Report named ‘Striving for Clean Air’ has called attention to a public health crisis forthcoming caused by the Poor Air Quality Index. It has revealed that nine out of ten South Asian cities have estimated two million premature deaths annually.    

The Climate Minister of Pakistan Shireen Rehman had recently warned, giving a statement “What goes on in Pakistan won’t stay in Pakistan” indicating climate devastation caused by recent floods. This warning fits perfectly with the situation going on with air pollution. 

South Asian countries including Nepal, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, and even Bhutan are not spared and are spared in a pall of toxic air. The major culprit behind the spread has been the inhalable particulate in the air. The diameter is 2.5 micrometers and much finer than a human hair which is 70 micrometers in diameter.  


30 percent of the air pollution in the Indian state of Punjab comes from Punjab province in Pakistan and, on average, 30pc of the air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna) originates in India,” says the report. 

Keeping that in view, it is useless to quarrel over which city or country emits the most poison.  Muthykumara Mani, the lead economist of the World Bank stated that “the current city-by-city approach is suboptimal because pollution particles travel long distances and most of the pollution within a city comes from outside”. So, any of the local measures are not enough to control the spreading of pollution. 

Healthcare experts at the top private hospitals, Hijaz Hospital, Life Line HospitalAvicenna Hospital say “children under five years, the elderly, and people who are already suffering from diseases like diabetes or have heart or respiratory conditions are most vulnerable”. 

In Pakistan, Punjab out of all provinces stayed a step ahead and came up with a smog policy in 2017 but lacked in the implementation stage. This year it has been declared a calamity. 

One thing that emerges from the report crystal clear is that South Asia needs to work on the air quality index to save the coming generations from inhaling poison.