Health

Published: Tuesday September 2, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday September 5, 2014 MYT 5:50:30 PM

What is killing 4.7 million people in China?  

While making great strides in healthcare, China is suffering from the by-products of prosperity - high premature deaths from pollution and other lifestyle factors, researchers say.

Air pollution, smoking, obesity and accidents, especially on the road, kill at least 4.7 million Chinese a year and cost the country tens of billions of dollars, researchers say.

In an overview published in The Lancet, they said China had in some respects made great strides in health, boosting the average lifespan from 40 years in 1950 to 76 years in 2011 and rolling back many infectious diseases. On the other hand, the risk of premature death and sickness from pollution, smoking, road crashes and lifestyle ailments is worse than before.

The risk of premature death and sickness from pollution, smoking, road crashes and lifestyle ailments is worse than before in China, says experts. – AFP

The trio of Chinese and US experts said China had the chance of learning from rich countries which had already been down this path, a by-product of rising prosperity. Many of these risks can be lowered by interventions with shown effectiveness, they say.

China has the opportunity to avoid repetition of the full toll of preventable disease burdens suffered by high-income countries from non-communicable diseases. 

A million deaths annually are attributable to inhaling indoor smoke from solid fuels, and another 1.2 million from inhaling fine particulate matter outdoors, says expert. – AFP

The research, led by Jeffrey Koplan, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, provides the following snapshot, which includes figures that have been published previously:

– Air pollution: A million deaths annually are attributable to inhaling indoor smoke from solid fuels, and another 1.2 million from inhaling fine particulate matter outdoors.

The economic cost from particulate air pollution among urban dwellers was 341bil yuan (about RM175bil) in 2006, according to the paper.

Smoking is attributed to 1.4 million premature deaths yearly in the Middle Kingdom. - Filepic

– Smoking: 1.4 million premature deaths each year, costing 41bil yuan (about RM21bil) annually on the basis of values for 2000.

– Road fatalities: China has more than 800,000 deaths annually from accidents, which are mainly accounted for by road accidents, according to the report. (Separately, the United Nations estimated 275,000 road deaths in China in 2010).

Accidents of all kinds are the leading cause of death in the 1-39 age group and cost 65bil yuan (about RM33bil) in medical expenses alone, says the study.

– Obesity: 363,000 fatalities each year attributable to high body-mass index, a condition linked to heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. The cost in 2003 – was 21 billion yuan(about RM11bil). – AFP

Health risk

Aside from obesity and road fatalities, China's environmental woes are very worrying. While we may have a vague clue about certain areas being polluted, it is perhaps the severity of the contamination that we don't yet know about. Watch the videos below to get an idea. 

Tags / Keywords: smoking, air pollution, obesity, road accidents, china

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