India | Op-Ed: ‘Pollution is a health emergency’

Dr. Arvind Kumar, a surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi and a founder of the Lung Care Foundation (one of Health Care Without Harm’s partners in India), contributed a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post in which he pointedly calls India’s deadly pollution crisis “a public health emergency.”

He points to lack of awareness as a major barrier to action: “Indians know that pollution is bad for them and their children, but many do not understand the extent to which the damage carries in the body, with brutal effects. This lack of awareness leads to apathy. Thus, doctors must educate patients and not just after they’ve been diagnosed with a pollution-related disease.”

Dr. Kumar has been leading an initiative called Doctors for Clean Air–a collaboration between the Lung Care Foundation, Health Care Without Harm and Every Breath Matters (the campaign launched by Christiana Figueres, an architect of the Paris climate agreement)–in which prominent doctors throughout India are committing to raise awareness and force action to ensure clean air as a fundamental right. He also says that doctors cannot do it alone, urging India’s government to declare a public health emergency.

Fossil fuels have brought us to this pathetic state. It is time for the human race to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shift completely to the abundant and clean aboveground sources of energy such as sun, water and wind. This is the only way to ensure the gift of clean air to our children. Our future depends on it.

Read the full op-ed in the Washington Post.

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