WHO and UNEP join to combat environment-related disease in Africa

UNITED NATIONS IN AFRICANEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS)Aug. 22, 2008–Diseases caused by environmental change are responsible for too many deaths in Africa. In 2002 alone, unsafe water, pollution, poor sanitation, inadequate waste disposal, insufficient disease vector control and exposure to chemicals claimed about 2.4 million lives.

In a bid to address this challenge, the First Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa will be held in Libreville, Gabon from 26 to 29 August under the slogan “Health security through healthy environments”.

Jointly organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and hosted by the Government of Gabon, the conference is expected to attract hundreds of delegates including Health Ministers, Ministers of Environment, high-level experts, academics, policy makers, bilateral & multilateral institutions and non-governmental organisations.

The conference – the first of its kind in Africa – aims to secure political commitment for an integrated approach to policy and the institutional and investment changes required to reduce environmental threats to health.

Angela Cropper, UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director said: “While our knowledge has been increasing about how ecosystems and species and the quality of the environment relate to human health, there is a lag in concerted policy and action to address this relationship. Bringing together Ministers of Environment and Health in this Conference is an opportunity to lay the basis for doing so in and on behalf of the continent of Africa. We need to make sure that this partnership between WHO and UNEP endures and gets stronger, in order for the United Nations System to offer to Africa the quality of technical and policy support which will be needed.’

The Conference will explore the links between health and environment. It intends to build a strategic health and environment alliance that will influence development policies at the macro-economic and sectoral levels, impact on existing investment frameworks and resource allocation, and lead to tangible outcomes in the short and medium terms.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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