Health impact assessment of air pollution in 3 Montenegrin cities

WHO

On 15 April 2016, a national consultative meeting presented the findings of a health impact assessment showing that 6–22% of mortality was attributed to air pollution in 3 Montenegrin cities: Podgorica, Pljevlja and Niksic.

Participants at the meeting were representatives of different sectors – health, sustainable development and tourism, economy, and human and minority rights – along with representatives of the Parliament of Montenegro, local authorities, national agencies and directorates, embassies, civil society, nongovernmental agencies, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Dr Boban Mugosa, Director of the Institute of Public Health, and Ms Mina Brajovic, Head of WHO Country Office in Montenegro, welcomed the 42 participants.

6–22% of mortality attributed to air pollution

Dr Mugosa stated that assessment findings show that almost 6% of all mortality cases in Podgorica, 12% in Niksic and 22% in Pljevlja could be attributed to the existing level of air pollution in these cities. In more than half of these cases, the effects were related to increased levels of air pollution in winter as a result of the use of fossil fuels.

Environment is one of the major health determinants and is responsible for 20% of total mortality in the WHO European Region. Air pollution has carcinogenic effects that cause lung cancer, and is also a cause of health inequalities, affecting the vulnerable members of society. Therefore, improvement of air quality should be exploited as one of the measures with a great potential to address health disparities.

600 000 premature deaths due to air pollution

A staggering US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600 000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever cost study conducted for the Region (1). The amount is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product of the entire European Union in 2013.

Addressing this public health and societal challenge requires development and implementation of policies and responses through collaboration across sectors and engagement of the whole society, as envisaged by the European health policy framework, Health 2020, emphasized Ms Brajovic in her concluding words.

About the assessment

The assessment was done under the framework of the biannual collaborative agreement between WHO and the Ministry of Health, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. Expert support was provided by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Bonn, Germany, and national institutions: the Institute of Public Health and the Centre for Ecotoxicological Research.