WHO & UN’s new compendium of action plans aims at health, environment

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Non-Communicable diseases
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Multilateral leaders have teamed up to develop a new compendium of 500 actions targeted at lowering death and disease caused by environmental risk factors, the first such resource to unite this expertise from across the UN system.

The team consists of leaders from World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

Environmental pollution and other environmental threats increase non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, poisonings, traffic accidents, and other causes of death which account for 24 percent of all deaths. Through strong preventive action at the national, regional, local, and sectoral levels, this toll might be significantly minimized, even eliminated.

Maria Neira
Maria Neira
Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health

“Events like record-breaking high temperatures in North America, massive flooding in Europe and China, and frequent wildfire seasons, are grim reminders that countries need to step up action to eliminate the health impacts of environmental risk factors. Implementing the actions in the compendium should be part of a healthy and green recovery from the COVID pandemic and beyond, and is essential to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN is uniting its health and environment expertise to support countries in this endeavor.”

The Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on health and environment offers easy access for practitioners to develop strategies for scaling up efforts in promoting healthy environments that prevent disease. It is intended for policymakers, government staff, local government officials, UN personnel and other decision-makers.

It is estimated that air pollution alone leads to 7 million deaths each year, while climate change is expected to contribute increasingly to a broad range of health impacts, both directly and indirectly through effects on biodiversity.

As it is proven that the low and middle-income countries bear the biggest environmental burden in all sorts of diseases and injuries, the compendium can also help achieve health equity.

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