Health Concerns of WHO
Environmental health comprises those aspects of
human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical,
chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment.
It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing correcting,
controlling and preventing those factors in the environment that can
potentially affect adversely the health of present and future generations.
(World Health Organization, 1993)
The Global Health Agenda as outlined in
the WHO Eleventh General Programme of Work 2006-2015 has outlined a need
for Environmental Health promotion under one of its seven priority areas,
which is written as “Tackling the
determinants of health”. It mentions that the health determinants are
imperative to improve the health of the world’s most vulnerable people and
reducing health inequalities. It has also outlined that the environment
related health problems, as follows, need careful tacking through
incorporation of various cross-cutting efforts which quite often goes
beyond the influence of ministry of health;
living conditions with poor housing and
overcrowding, inadequate sanitary facilities, and challenging communicable
and vector-borne diseases
unhealthy lifestyles and nutrition
transition that needs massive behavior change campaigns
growing urbanization, unhealthy work
environment, and air pollution,
complexities with food safety and
security, food habits and healthy diet; and threatened water supplies, and
climate change and its adverse impacts
with extreme climatic behaviors, and need for preparedness to its
mitigation and adaptation
accordance with the Global Health Agenda, WHO’s
priorities in Eleventh General Programme of Work 2006-2015, has equally
focused for Environmental Health, and has elaborated it under one of its
priorities namely “ Providing
support to countries in moving to universal coverage with effective public
health interventions”, which is designed to include clusters such as
communicable and non-communicable disease prevention and control; sexual
and reproductive health; infant, child, adolescent and maternal health and
the health of older persons; environment-related health problems, and
effective response in terms of crisis; and research.
South East Asia Regional Committee’s Sixty-first Session in September 2008
to be held in SEARO, New Delhi
will propose and discuss a regional initiative on environment and health as
by Member States:
financial resources for better environmental health;
NEHAPs, including emerging environmental health
active participation of the private sector and of NGOs in environmental
health programmes and compile success stories;
healthy public policies; and
with technical working groups of the regional ministerial forum for
environment and health
Member Countries in the review of NEHAPs
Member Countries to identify, address environmental factors and mitigate
the adverse health effects
research to assess risk factors and health impacts of global warming and
climate change; and
technical support and capacity building for health impact assessments, on
strategies for healthy public policies and on the sound management of
hazardous substances, including health care wastes.
Public Health and Environment Health Topics
· Indoor air pollution :
Exposure to indoor air pollution from
solid fuels has been linked to many diseases, in particular pneumonia
among children and chronic respiratory diseases among adults.
· Outdoor air
Air pollution continues to pose a
significant threat to health worldwide. Many countries around the world
do not have regulations on air pollution.
· Chemical safety :
Ensures early warning and prevention of
harmful effects of chemicals to which humans are being increasingly
exposed, and assesses potential risks to human health.
· Children’s environmental health :
Child survival and development hinge on
basic needs to support life; among these, a safe, healthy and clean
environment is fundamental.
· Electromagnetic fields :
Electric and magnetic fields are part of
the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation which extends from static
electric and magnetic fields, through radiofrequency and infrared
radiation, to X-rays.
· Environmental health
in emergencies :
Death and disease burden from emergencies,
disasters and disease outbreaks associated with environmental risk
factors can be significantly reduced by effective prevention,
preparedness and response capacities.
· Environmental health impact assessment :
Health Impact Assessment provides decision
makers with information about how any policy, programme
or project may affect the health of people.
· Global environmental change :
Large-scale and global environmental
hazards to human health include climate change, ozone depletion, loss of
biodiversity and much more.
· Health and environment linkages initiative:
Is a global effort by WHO and UNEP to
support action by developing country policy makers on environmental
problems to health?
· Healthy settings :
Healthy Settings, the settings-based
approaches to health promotion, involve a holistic and multi-disciplinary
method which integrates action across risk factors. The goal is to
maximize disease prevention via a "whole system" approach. The
settings approach has roots in the WHO Health for All strategy and, more
specifically, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Healthy Settings
key principles include community participation, partnership, empowerment and equity. Read
· Ionizing radiation :
The aim of the Radiation and Environmental
Health Programme is to look for solutions to protect human health from
ionizing radiation hazards by raising people's awareness of the potential
· Occupational health :
Workplace fatalities, injuries and
illnesses remain at unacceptably high levels and involve an enormous and
unnecessary health burden, suffering, and economic loss.
environmental health impacts :
The environmental burden of disease
quantifies the amount of disease caused by environmental risks.
· Ultraviolet radiation :
Small amounts of UV are essential for the
production of vitamin D in people, yet overexposure may result in acute
and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system.
· Water, sanitation
and health :
WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation
and hygiene where the health burden is high, where interventions could
make a major difference and where the present state of knowledge is poor.