Mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah writes to Prime Minister in a bid to ‘spare other families from the heartache’

The mother of a Lewisham nine-year-old who died as a result of air pollution has written to the Prime Minister in a bid to ‘spare other families from the heartache’ she’s suffered.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah has written a letter to Boris Johnson ahead of the State Opening of Parliament on May 11 to urge him to prioritise air pollution management in the government’s new legislative agenda.

Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s daughter Ella died of an asthma attack in 2013, following nearly 30 hospitalisations over three years.

The family had been living close the South Circular Road in Forest Hill, Lewisham.

Following an inquest in December 2020 the Coroner ruled that Ella ‘died of asthma contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution’.

Ella and her mother Rosamund

The Coroner found that between 2010-2013, Ella was exposed to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and also levels of NO2 and particulate matter in excess of World Health Organization limits.

He concluded that air pollution ‘was a significant contributory factor to both the induction and exacerbations of her asthma’.

Rosamund’s letter to the Prime Minister, sent earlier this afternoon, followed the Coroner’s PFD Report issued on April 21 in which he called upon the government to take responsibility in tackling the UK’s lack of legally binding air quality targets and improve public awareness and appropriate doctor training.

In the letter addressed to Mr Johnson, Ms Kissi-Debrah wrote: “The inquest demonstrated to me that successive governments have not prioritised health in terms of policies to tackle air pollution.

“Insufficient regard has been given to the public health emergency and this continues to cost lives.

“I am adamant that lessons will be learned from Ella’s death and that other families are spared the heartache that my family and I have suffered.

“This is a life and death issue.”

She also outlined four actions she wanted to see from the Prime Minister. These included:

– Setting up a meeting to discuss the lessons that need to be learned from Ella’s death
– A commitment to adopt the Coroner’s recommendations in order to prevent avoidable future deaths
– Ensuring that the Queen’s Speech this month contains a commitment to adopt the recommendations
– Improvements to the Environment Bill to better focus on protecting public health

As it stands, more than 1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults suffer from asthma in the UK.

In Lewisham, children under nine more 40 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma than the national average.

That figure jumps to 78 per cent more likely for children under 19.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on her death certificate, following the landmark inquest ruling last December.

Coroner calls for law change following the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah from air pollution



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