KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Unicef Malaysia today urged governments to protect children who are especially vulnerable to diseases caused by annual haze in the region.
“Children have borne the brunt of the haze that choked Malaysia and surrounding countries last month,” Unice Malaysia representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said in a tweet.
“Treatment and lost days at school, come at a cost and impact productivity.”
Children are said to be affected highly by the haze as they breathe more rapidly and their physical defences are not fully developed.
Haze can also cause implications to brain development, contributing to deficiencies in various areas of a child’s lifelong growth.
“Governments have a duty to children to ensure their right to a future is protected,” Clark-Hattingh said.
“For that to happen, urgent measures must be taken between affected countries, ensuring the private sector is on board, to find sustainable solutions to the haze.
“In the interim, raise awareness and improve understanding amongst the public of the consequences of air pollution on children’s wellbeing; and measures to protect them,” Clark-Hattingh added.
Forest fires on palm oil plantations in Indonesia recently caused the country, Malaysia and Singapore to be blanketed in haze for a few weeks.