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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 09, No. 1 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1997, 16 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSPECIAL FOCUS: The World's Forests and Human Health
View the documentPOINT: Modern Timbering Contributes to Forest Fires
View the documentCOUNTERPOINT: Only the Logging Industry Can Save Our Forests
View the documentDid You Know?
View the documentCHERNOBYL UPDATE: Turning Nuclear Swords Into Hazardous Plowshares
View the documentFOOD FOR THOUGHT: A Hopeful Future for the United Nations Under Kofi Annan
View the documentHEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT: Environmental Health Policies: A View From Africa
View the documentGood News
View the documentVoices
View the documentPOINT OF VIEW: Faith and Fear of the Future

Did You Know?

· Malaria is returning as a deadly scourge resisting medications and expanding to new areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently deemed malaria a primary public health enemy. The co-author of the WHO report, Dr. Paul R. Epstein (Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment Harvard Medical School), indicates that malaria and dengue fever now occur at high altitudes in South America, central Africa and Asia. Cerebral malaria has been identified in Nairobi and dengue fever in the mountains around San Jose, Costa Rica. He notes that highland malaria and dengue fever have been found within the context of the upward migration of plants.

SOURCE: New York Times, January Band 13, 1997.

· Children around the world work in agriculture-mixing, loading and applying pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. Exposure to these biological and chemical agents poses a higher risk to children than to adults and has been linked to increased incidences of cancer, neuro-behavioral effects and immune system abnormalities. For example, mortality among Sri Lanka child farm workers from pesticide poisoning is greater than from malaria, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and whooping cough combined.

SOURCE: International Labor Organization (ILO) Press Release, ILO/96/38, Nov. 12, 1996

· According to UNICEF, the gap between developed and developing countries is wider for maternal mortality rates than for any other health indicator. An estimated 585,000 women - 25% of whom are teenagers - die annually during pregnancy or childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occur in developing nations and result from inadequate health care. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman's risk of maternity related death is 1 in 13, whereas in Western Europe the risk is 1 in 3200.

SOURCE: UNICEF Facts & Figures, 1996

· A report from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) by Dr. Alex Ezih found that in West Africa and Pakistan men indicated that they had no intention of ever using contraceptives, except for Ghana where total fertility rate declined 14 percent. Non-use of contraceptives for religious reasons is also more common among men than women, particularly in Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, Rwanda and Senegal. However, in many other developing countries family planning programs are on the rise and the ideal family size is declining

SOURCE: Newsletter, Vol. S No. 1, 1996 DHS, Calverton, Maryland

· Forest cover in Mexico has declined by 50 percent over the last forty years. Current laws have been used to exploit lumber-quality wood while guaranteeing a supply of prime resources. This discourages forest owners from developing themselves as forestry producers. Peasants, also see forests as a nuisance, which discourages forest renewal and promotes unfavorable deals with industrialists and the use of slash and burn techniques to create areas for livestock or agriculture. According to official estimates 1,482,000 acres of Mexico's forest cover are lost annually.

SOURCE: International Dateline, January 1997 Population Communications International

· Canada's Environment and Energy Ministers conceded that Canada will not meet its years 2000 greenhouse gas reduction goal of stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels. A report found that Canada's 1995 emissions were already 9.5 percent higher than 1900 levels - higher than previous federal forecasts of an 8 percent hike by 2000 that helped shape a 1995 action plan. The report also said that emissions will decline over the next five years, but will soar over the next two decades. By 2010, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada will be 16.5 percent over 1990 levels. Given its northern orientation, Canada will be one of the countries most seriously affected by climate change.

SOURCE: International Dateline, January 1997 Population Communications International

· Groundwater accounts for 98% of the drinking water supplies in Denmark, 96% in Austria, 94% in Portugal, 90% in Hungary, about 50% in the US.

SOURCE: UNEP, Our Planet, Vol. 8, No. 4 1996

· The ICPD'S (International Conference on Population and Development) broader "reproductive health/reproductive right" approach to family planning programs is embraced by "almost all" countries according to Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) in her report to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. She noted that among high priority issues are women's empowerment, quality care giving, meeting the special needs of adolescents and involving men in reproductive health. Because the Program of Action specifies that two-thirds of the resources required to meet its goals should come from domestic funding, UNFPA is working to strengthen countries' capacity to track their financing of ICPD-related activities. The report also highlighted the 20/20 initiative-based on the idea of allocating 20 percent of official development assistance and 20 percent of national budgets to priority based social programs.

SOURCE: UN General Assembly, November, 1996

Global Warming: How it Works

Note: If drawn to scale, the earths atmosphere is so thin that in this diagram it would be invisible.

SOURCE: US International Energy Outlook, 1996

· At the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, 155 governments vowed not only to promote child education, but to dramatically reduce adult illiteracy by the year 2000. Using findings midway to the target date, the International Consultative Forum, a United Nations interagency watchdog found that progress has been made in all regions of the world and four out of five children aged 6 to 11 now go to school.

However, in regional surveys the results are mixed. In South Asia, although India has doubled its education budget, Bangladesh is trying to boost girls' enrollment and Nepal will open 300 new schools in areas where the enrollment of girls is lowest, only three countries - Bhutan, Iran and Sri Lanka have increased adult literacy rates. The greatest problem, according to the report, is the rapid population growth which outstrips any gains. Of the estimated 37 million children out of school in South Asia, eight out of ten are girls.

In East Asia and the Pacific region, although 90 percent of school age children are enrolled in primary school, women's 76 percent literacy rate still lags far behind the 90 percent for men. However, new educational technologies promulgate in the region; Mongolia has launched educational radio programming for nomadic women, South Korea is opening 30 television channels for education and China is training school teachers via correspondence courses.

In Arab states, funding for education has increased slightly and 8 million children are still out of school, and only 44 percent of women are literate compared with 68 percent of men. Similar situation exists in Latin America where the educational quality is very poor and the teacher morale is so low, due to poor salaries, that instruction is frequently interrupted by strikes. Finally in Africa, education is burdened by crushing foreign debt that makes it impossible for the poorest countries to make any progress.

The "Education for All" Forum has published a press information kit which can be obtained by contacting: Michael Lakin, EFA Forum Secretariat, UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07SP, France. tel: (33-1) 45680890; fax: (33-1) 40659406; e-mail:

SOURCE: Education for All Forum, UNESCO, 1966

Emissions of Global Warming Gases

This bar chart shows how the world's emissions of carbon dioxide - the major contributor to global warming - are projected to rise by the end of the century almost everywhere in the world, despite government promises to work to prevent climate change. Carbon dioxide is chiefly produced by the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - and the destruction of forests.

SOURCE: US International Energy Outlook, 1996.