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New Film Highlights Human Toll of Deadly Haze, Air Pollution in Asia

Vital Strategies call on Cities to Use Air Quality Data for Clean Air Action

Nov. 7, 2023 (New York) – Humanity is wrestling with the ubiquitous challenges posed by climate change and its extreme impacts on our health. The Global Climate and Health Alliance’s new online branded series released, The Climate and Us, explores how the climate crisis is affecting human health and highlights solutions from the health sector. Global public health organization Vital Strategies and its partners are showcased in the series for their work to address air quality and promote clean air action for health in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Clean air is a human right and a public health priority,” said Sumi Mehta, Vice President, Environmental, Climate & Urban Health, Vital Strategies. “Right now, more than 90% of the world breathes unhealthy air. Air pollution has wide-reaching negative health consequences including stunting in children, impaired brain development, lung disease, heart disease and cancer, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year. We thank BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions for the visceral storytelling – showing real stories about how air quality affects the lives of people in Jakarta, and some of the work underway to mitigate and reduce air pollution. People are dealing with the negative effects of air pollution in countless cities around the world, and conditions will only get worse if action is not taken.”

“Vital Strategies works at the intersection of climate and health to improve air quality –  building capacity in Jakarta and other cities to monitor local air quality, and equipping  frontline healthcare workers to respond to health concerns caused by air pollution. By illuminating the interconnectedness of human health and planet health, we hope to see a surge in society committing to our shared goal: to improve health for everyone, everywhere through clean air and climate action,” Mehta continued.

Vital Strategies’ film shares the stories of three members of a Jakarta community living near a bustling urban port, several factories and congested streets—factors which contribute to high levels of air pollution. Novi, a mother of two, and Cepi express concern over the dust and pollution they and their community breathe. Zalfaa, a local medical student who has been learning about health concerns related to breathing polluted air, volunteers to educate people on this issue. An important part of engaging residents on air pollution are the air monitoring stations that have been set up around Jakarta, including one right next to the school that Novi and Cepi’s children attend. By being able to access data on  the levels of pollution across Jakarta, residents are able to make informed decisions to reduce their risk, and decision makers are able to use the data address the leading sources of pollutants.  

“Clean air actions must be prioritized if we’re to protect our health and the health of our planet,” said Dan Kass, Senior Vice President, Environmental, Climate & Urban Health, Vital Strategies. “The Climate and Us series underscores the universal harms of rising air pollution and carbon emissions as dire threats to both our health and our planet. But we don’t have to continue on this path to calamity. Solutions such as monitoring air quality, regulating emissions and implementing strong and equitable clean air initiatives will have rapid and widespread benefits. Improving air quality in cities will save lives, reduce carbon emissions, and enable the world to meet critical climate targets.”

Through thought-provoking storytelling, interviews with both experts and the people living with the realities of climate change every day, and important scientific research, the series underlines the importance of public health in the midst of this global crisis.

“Clean air action in Jakarta could protect 10,000 lives a year and save billions in health expenditures,” said Asep Kuswanto, Head of Environmental Agency, DKI Jakarta. “Residents of Jakarta are well aware of the connection between air quality and their health, and while the city has taken many steps to improve conditions including car free days, car emissions testing and publicly available air quality data, we’re not in the clear yet. We thank the Global Climate and Health Alliance for highlighting the connection between planet and health and the many solutions cities and countries can implement so we can all breathe easier.”

Good air quality has an “Air Quality Index” (AQI) of 0-50. Jakarta regularly sees an AQI of over 150.

The Climate and Us, presented by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, takes audiences on a cinematic journey across the world, highlighting the critical link between our changing climate and its profound effects on our wellbeing. Through 31 compelling stories spanning six continents, the series explores the realities faced by people worldwide and highlights the wide-ranging solutions we employ to shield our everyday lives.

Viewers will journey to the frontline of the climate crisis, and learn about health responses through key themes, such as the health impact of climate change, unearthing the sustainability issues at the heart of the health sector, and documenting the incredible solutions and innovators emerging from this crisis. The entire series will be hosted on a curated hubsite available on

Watch Vital Strategies’ Film: The Data Healing the Lungs of a City

View The Climate and Us series:

More about The Climate and Us:

  • The Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) presents its timely first original series, The Climate and Us. The series, produced on GCHA’s behalf by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, features health and climate stories from around the world and launches on 31 October on a microsite.
  • To learn more about The Climate and Us, visit the dedicated hubsite:
  • The series will be screened at COP 28 on December 3.
  • The Climate and Us looks at the global race against the climate crisis, and the resilient communities that are adapting to our warming world, the interconnectedness of humanity and the climate crisis, what it means for our health, and some of the “win-win” solutions working towards healing people and the planet.
  • The series is produced for the Global Climate and Health Alliance by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, the award-winning commercial content studio of BBC Studios.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies believes every person should be protected by an equitable and effective public health system. We partner with governments, communities and organizations around the world to reimagine public health so that health is supported in all the places we live, work and play. The result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives.

To learn more, visit, or follow us @VitalStrat.