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The World Health Organization's (WHO) country profiles of environmental impacts on health represent a first step towards helping policymakers plan interventions, says this Lancet editorial.

An estimated 13 million deaths could be prevented worldwide each year through healthier environments. In 23 countries, more than ten per cent of these deaths result from indoor air pollution — from cooking and heating with solid fuel — and a lack of clean water.

Young children are often the most affected, says the editorial, and without tackling environmental causes there is little hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing mortality in children under five.

The editorial highlights China, where 650,000 deaths from pollution could be prevented annually by a change in cooking methods and adherence to WHO Air Quality Guidelines.

With the impact of environment on health likely to become even more important, the editorial argues that if countries don't start planning for healthier environments now, many more lives will be lost unnecessarily.

Link to full article in The Lancet*

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