WHO launches SunSmart Global UV app
New application to help protect people from the dangers of the sun, promotes public health

NAIROBI, Kenya — A new app for mobile phones that provides localised information on ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The SunSmart Global UV app provides five-day UV and weather forecasts at searchable locations. It highlights time slots when sun protection is required with the aim of helping 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 SunSmart Global UV app is available free of charge at both the Apple App and Google Play stores. It provides personalised options so that users can take actions to protect prolonged, excessive UV exposure, a major cause of skin cancer and other UV-related diseases. The app allows the inclusion of national and local data streams and adaptation to multiple languages – it is currently available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, Dutch, and Spanish.

“Evidence shows that overexposure to UV is the major cause of skin cancer. So it’s vital for people to know when and how to protect themselves,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. ”We encourage everyone to use the application to protect themselves and their children and to make this a daily habit.”

It is estimated that more than 1.5 million cases of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma combined) were diagnosed globally in 2020. During the same period, more than 120,000 people across the world lost their lives to this highly preventable disease. One of the main factors contributing to these cancers is excess UV radiation from thinning of the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer resulting from the release of certain man-made chemicals. Under the international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, all UN member states are phasing out the production and consumption of those substances, according to a specific timetable. As a result of these continuing efforts, the ozone level is projected to recover by mid-century. In the meantime, individuals need to be particularly cautious to protect themselves from receiving too much UV exposure — this is where the SunSmart Global UV app plays an important awareness role.

“The Montreal Protocol protects the stratospheric ozone layer which, in turn, protects human health and the environment by blocking most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface. Skin cancer can result from overexposure to the sun, so it is imperative for everyone to remain vigilant and ensure they protect themselves adequately with hats and sunscreen. The ‘SunSmart’ app is a fantastic UV monitoring tool, and I would encourage everyone to use it,” advises Meg Seki, executive secretary of UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat.

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