More than 17,000 people in Ghana die annually as a result of exposure to air pollution, with children and women being the most affected victims, Mrs Gina McCarthy, a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, had said.More numbers of allergies in both adults and children would also be recorded due to the high amounts of hydrochloric acid being released into the atmosphere, she added.
These were stated during a panel discussion on Climate Change and its impacts on public health at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), on Monday.
Mrs McCarthy said air pollution was the largest environmental health risk in the world, as more than seven million people globally died annually from that.
The EPA administrator said poor women and children paid a heavy price from indoor air pollution as they spent more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.
She said cleaning up the air could save lives and prevents non-communicable diseases and also reduce disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly
She, therefore, urged Ghana to take advantage of the efficient technologies available to continue to grow economically in a manner where natural resources would be more effectively protected.
She called on Ghana and other African countries to invest in efficient renewable energy for energy security, promote low-carbon transport for less congestion and pollution and low-input agriculture to boost food security.
Mrs Mc Carthy said Climate Change strategies must also look at ensuring higher efficiencies in fuel-wood utilisation and how it could contribute to improved health and profit margins of women traders.
She said people must be educated on the devastating effects of climate change and the need to shift to clean technologies that were vital to a stable and successful future.
She said Ghana must learn from the challenges and successes of the US at a time when the country was becoming more urbanised and industrialised.
She also indicated that Ghana could follow some of the legal steps the US had taken in the industry, energy and transportation sectors to reduce carbon emissions.
Dr Frederick Ato Armah, the Head of Department, Environmental Science, UCC, said Africa must stop playing victims of the impact of Climate Change and be more proactive in dealing with the issue because they had in a way contributed to it.
Dr Sabastian Eliason, the Head of Department, Community Medicine of the School of Medical Sciences, UCC, said the impact of Climate Change posed great danger to public health and pragmatic measures were needed to address it.