With the arrival of COVID-19 and the pollution of rivers and basins, the country faces a double health crisis has to be urgently resolved; this scenario makes the population more vulnerable, say federal officials
MEXICO CITY (Excelsior) – The geographic area with the highest environmental impact, from the Santiago River in Jalisco to the Coatzacoalcos River in Veracruz, is home to 78 percent of the nation’s coronavirus deaths, according to the SSA and Semarnat.
For Víctor Manuel Toledo, head of the Secretariat of the Environment, this situation reveals a double health crisis that urgently needs to be resolved, since, once again, the connection between environmental health and human health is demonstrated.
This was made known at the fourth follow-up meeting of the so-called “Toxitour,” held virtually, in which Jorge Alcocer, Secretary of Health, and María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, director of Conacyt, also participated.
Toledo admitted that the contamination of rivers and basins is a slope that has cost lives, and those who suffer from it are more vulnerable to the pandemic.
Álvarez-Buylla said the emergency strips away precarious living conditions linked to chronic-degenerative diseases.
Alcocer said the arrival of COVID-19 is an opportunity for environmental recovery, as happened in China, where air and water pollution was reversed thanks to confinement.
The Toxitour is an initiative in which experts travel around the country to document the impact of pollution on health.
Virus. More lethal in contaminated areas
Semarnat and the Health Secretariat said, 78% of deaths from COVID-19 at the national level concentrated in the areas with the most significant environmental impact. That area stretches from the Santiago River in Jalisco to the Coatzacoalcos River in Veracruz.
In this regard, the Secretary of the Environment, Victor Manuel Toledo, said that these deaths reveal a double health crisis that urgently needs to be resolved since once again the interconnection between environmental and human health has been demonstrated.
This was made known during the fourth meeting to follow up on the so-called Toxitour, held virtually, in which the head of the SSA, Jorge Alcocer, and the director of the Conacyt, María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, also participated.
Víctor Toledo recalled that one of the first socio-environmental and health problems he took on when he arrived at Semarnat was the contamination of rivers. That has cost the lives of many people who have previous conditions, which makes them more vulnerable to the pandemic.
María Elena Álvarez-Buylla pointed out that, at this time, the important thing is to sustain this double health emergency. Especially to those living in precarious conditions associated with chronic-degenerative diseases and which lead those affected by COVID-19 to a tragic outcome but also adds the phenomenon of environmental toxicity and its implications, which intensifies the effects of other diseases.
Conacyt is working on the construction of a National System of Toxicology. It is sought as an alternative to investigation and incidence that contributes to the solution of the socio-environmental problems in Mexico.
The commitment is to launch this project with the highest priority and give it the necessary budget to address, from the articulation of the capacities of humanities, sciences, technologies, and innovation, this emergency that overlaps the new crisis that represents the COVID-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alcocer considered that, despite the effects, with the arrival of COVID-19, there are opportunities to discover that it is possible to help the recovery of environmental health.
He gave as an example what happened in China, where there was a significant recovery in the air and water because people were confined to their homes. That tempered and opened up the possibility of reversing all the complexity facing the region.
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