Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate Says Use of Coal Will Be ‘Disastrous’

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The secretary general of the Egyptian Doctors’ Syndicate, Ihab Taher, called on advocates of health and environmental affairs to file a lawsuit against the government’s recent decision to use coal to generate power.

Taher, who stressed that the impact of using coal for power generation was “disastrous”, added that the cabinet must be forced to find an alternative.

“The World Health Organisation has announced that around 4.2 million people die annually as a result of air pollution,” Taher said in a statement published on the Doctors’ Syndicate’s official website.

He added that according to Harvard’s School for Public Health, at least 4 percent of deaths in the US, one of the world’s largest coal users, are caused by air pollution.

Some of the hazards of coal use are not curable or may cost fortunes to fix, Taher explained, and he wondered if Egypt’s government is planning to allocate more of its budget to face the harms that will be caused by the coal.

Egypt allocates 3 percent of its GNP to healthcare, a number that many doctors have described as insufficient to develop the country’s deteriorating health care system.

Earlier in April, the Egyptian cabinet approved the use of coal for power generation after a fierce debate within the government over whether the highly pollutant fuel should be permitted for use by the energy-intensive cement industry.

Environmentalists, including the country’s environment minister Laila Iskander, say the use of coal for energy would be catastrophic for Egypt, which already has one of the worst pollution levels in the world.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) has for their part filed a lawsuit before the administrative court to challenge the decision, which it says violates articles of the newly-ratified Egyptian constitution, in addition to contravening international conventions and covenants ratified by Egypt.

Source: Ahram Online

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