Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, has lauded the Urban Health Initiative’s commitment to achieve its goal of creating awareness and engaging stakeholders to improve air quality in the city.
He said the communities’ involvement in the programme had given hope of achieving positive results to improve air quality in Accra and reducing deaths and diseases associated with air pollution.
Mr Sowah said this at the opening of a two-day Urban Health Initiative Science-Policy dialogue series on the theme: “Saving lives by linking health, environment and sustainable development” to assess the progress of the initiative, which had been piloted in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area since 2018.
“Working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the pilot programme had been educative.
The involvement of communities such as Korle Gonno, Mamprobi, Jamestown, Chorkor among others in the programme has given us hope that air quality in the city can be improved,” he said.
He pointed out that after an inventory to identify the sources of pollution in Accra; measures were being taken to address the issues of waste in the city, control traffic and ensure safer vehicles on the roads as well as promote energy-efficient buildings.
“In the area of promoting energy-efficient buildings, the Assembly has introduced an incentive package to encourage developers to construct green buildings by offering rebates on property rates and building permits. Per the package, developers enjoy a 30 – 50 percent discount on all property rates and building permits,” Mr Sowah said.
The Chief Executive expressed the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s gratitude for the initiative and appealed for more technical and non-technical assistance to help improve on the lives of city dwellers.
Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, the Acting WHO Country Representative in Ghana in a speech read on his behalf, entreated Ghanaians to adopt positive behaviours to reduce air pollution, improve urban health and mitigate climate change.
She pointed out that major contributors to environmental pollution in Ghana were rapid urbanization and population growth in cities such as Accra, Kumasi, and Takoradi.
Mr Emmanuel Appoh, the Acting Director in charge of Environmental Quality at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said about 4,600 people living within the Accra Metropolis were likely to die of conditions relating to poor air quality, by 2030 if stringent measures were not taken to tackle the issue.
He disclosed that his outfit was thus rolling out interventions including making inputs into policy decisions on various sectors of the economy, increasing sensitisation activities, building the capacity of environmental health officials, strengthening partnership to address the problem.
Mr Appoh indicated that the newly-developed Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) for the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) and the Greater Accra Region, as well as the Health & Pollution Action Plan (HPAP) by the EPA would be a major game-changer in controlling the risk.
“We now have 15 air quality monitoring stations within the GAMA but 12 are operational and aside from that, we have installed two pieces of modern monitoring equipment; one in Adabraka and the other on the University of Ghana (UG) campus to give us real-time data on air quality in the region for policy direction,” he said.