In a move to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being worldwide by 2030, a consortium of UN agencies on Tuesday launched an innovative mobile application that would help curb skin cancer.
The application, the collective brainchild of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was launched to help protect individuals from excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure, a key cause of skin cancer and other ultraviolet-related diseases.
Developed by Australia’s Cancer Council Victoria and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the SunSmart Global UV app, according to the WHO, is programmed to give localised information regarding radiation levels in UV and can help anyone, anywhere, determine the safe amount of time to stay outdoors, soaking up the rays.
“The SunSmart Global UV App provides five-day UV and weather forecasts at searchable locations,” Carla Drysdale, spokesperson for the WHO, said at a briefing at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.
“It highlights time slots when sun protection is required. It aims to help people around the world know when to use sun protection, in an effort to reduce the global burden of skin cancer and UV-related eye damage,” the WHO official further explained.
Although the sun is necessary for everyone mainly for the production of Vitamin D because it assists to prevent the occurrence of bone diseases like rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis, the Executive Secretary of UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat, Meg Seki, noted that too much sun can be hazardous, and even life-threatening.
“Skin cancer can result from overexposure to the sun, so everyone must remain vigilant and ensure they protect themselves adequately with hats and sunscreen,” she said. “The SunSmart app is a fantastic UV monitoring tool, and I would encourage everyone to use it.”
Speaking for WMO, the agency’s Secretary-General, Petteri Tallas, said, “This app combines meteorological, environmental and health experts to help protect people from the sun both at work and in their leisure.
“It is unique because it uses data from country-level weather and UV measuring stations to provide accurate and location-specific UV Index readings…It is a great example of science serving society.”
Vera Paquete-Perdigão, director of the ILO’s Governance and Tripartism Department, said the app was “a useful tool to assist companies and workers in identifying hazardous work, and planning safety and health measures.”
Available free of charge at both the Apple App and Google Play stores, the UV app allows the inclusion of national and local data streams and adaptation to multiple languages—it is currently available in Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Dutch, and Spanish.
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