New initiative from WHO and UN Partners’ aims to minimise diseases and save lives
WHO and United Nations (UN) partners announced on 3 September that they have developed a compendium that provides 500 “easy access” and “practical actions” to increase efforts to protect health from environmental risk factors.
The Compendium, which is designed for policymakers, local and national governments, is a new initiative led by the WHO along with UN partners’ United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNICEF.
The goal of the Compendium is to substantially reduce deaths from environmental pollution and other environmental risks – which currently accounts for 24 per cent of deaths.
According to estimates from the WHO, air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths every year. Through extreme weather events, aggravating the spread of infectious diseases, among others, climate change is already having significant impacts on people’s health.
The recommendations and actions in the Compendium address a wide range of environmental risks including air pollution, unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene, climate and ecosystem change, chemicals, radiation and occupational risks.
“Events like record-breaking high temperatures in North America, massive flooding in Europe and China, and devastating wildfire seasons provide increasingly frequent, grim reminders that countries need to step up action to eliminate the health impacts of environmental risk factors,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, at WHO.
Speaking exclusively for Word Healthcare Journal (WHO), Dr Neria has previously stressed the importance of making clear that actions to tackle climate change are actions to protect people’s health.
In addition to preventing deaths, Dr Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of the HIV, Health and Development Group at UNDP believes that the Compendium can also help to achieve health equity.
She said, “by addressing the factors that cause a large burden of the disease in low- and middle-income countries, the Compendium offers policymakers, the private sector and other stakeholders’ valuable tools for creating the transformative change needed to secure a healthy future for people and planet. ”
Access the compendium here: Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on health and environment
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