A crisis is brewing, and it is putting the health and future of our kids at serious risk, but there appears to be little to know acknowledgement of it. Recent data and interviews with experts and paediatricians reveal that Pakistani children are suffering from prolonged respiratory illnesses due to increasing air pollution, with health practitioners warning of a rise in cases of hypertension, heart diseases and even cancer among young Pakistanis. This is of course a result of there being no national plan to tackle worsening air quality levels, as we continue to resort to stop-gap measures.
As it is, Pakistan is the fourth most polluted country in the world, with almost all of its 220 million people living in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the WHO guidelines. Kids in Pakistan already have low immunity because of nutritional deficiencies, and when combined with environmental pollution, infections caused by smog become deadly.
Other countries such as the US and UK also have the same viruses and infections, however the incidence of such infections is much higher in Pakistan. In fact, a recent study that randomly sampled school children from different social strata in Lahore revealed that 20 percent of the children were diagnosed with asthma, but their families had no idea. According to health practitioners, last year was among the worst in this regard as there was an exponential increase in children’s illnesses.
Covid has already exacerbated problems in a population with already weakened immune systems. Things are going to get a lot worse if there is not a coordinated state response to deal with this emergency.