Regional Forum on Environment and Health

Regional effort towards better environment and health

About one quarter of the total deaths in the Western Pacific Region are attributable to environmental risks. Some of these risks are long-standing, such as unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and lack of appropriate waste management systems. Emerging threats are increasing, such as air pollution, exposure to toxic and hazardous chemicals, climate change and poor occupational conditions. In March 2014, WHO reported that air pollution is now the world's largest single environmental health risk. Air pollution is estimated to cause 16% of lung cancer deaths, 11% of deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and more than 20% of ischaemic heart disease and stroke. Other environmental chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants, are linked to the increase in type 2 diabetes. An estimated 41% of deaths in the world due to indoor and outdoor air pollution occur in the Western Pacific Region.

Many environmental health risks are linked to economic development, rapid and unplanned urbanization and industrialization. Most governments are unprepared to address these threats to health that require close collaboration between health and environment ministries and policy measures involving other sectors (such as transport, energy, housing, agriculture and trade).

The WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific adopted a resolution on environmental health in 2005 (WPR/RC56.R7), encouraging Member States to participate actively in a platform for dialogue and action by health and environment ministries through the Regional Forum on Health and Environment in Southeast and East Asian countries. The Regional Forum provides a venue for sharing knowledge and experiences, improving policy and regulatory frameworks and promoting policy dialogue between health and other sectors to implement integrated environmental health strategies.

Since 2005, the Regional Forum has convened high-level officials and ministers of health and environment of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam to address long-standing and emerging environmental health issues. WHO regional offices for South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, together with the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia Pacific, serve as Secretariat of the Regional Forum. The high-level officials have met eight times since 2004, and the ministers of health and environment have met every three years since 2007. The Fourth Ministerial Regional Forum to discuss health and environmental concerns in the Region will be hosted by the Philippines in 2016.



The Regional Forum

The general objective of this regional initiative is to effectively deal with the environmental health problems within countries and among themselves by increasing the capacity of Southeast and East Asian countries on environmental health management.

It aims to strengthen the cooperation of the ministries responsible for environment and health within the countries and across the region by providing a mechanism for sharing knowledge and experiences, improving policy and regulatory frameworks at the national and regional level, and promoting the implementation of integrated environmental health strategies and regulations.

Member countries

Latest News and Events


Secretariat

United Nations Environment Programme
Mr Jonathan Gilman
Regional Coordinator
Inter-Agency and Country Level Coordination
United Nations Environment Programme
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok
E-mail:jonathan.gilman@unep.org

WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia
Ms Lesley Onyon
Regional Advisor
Occupational Health and Chemical Safety
WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia
World Health House, I.P. Estate
New Delhi 110002, India
E-mail:onyonl@searo.who.int

WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Dr Nasir Hassan
Coordinator
Health and the Environment (HAE)
Division of NCD and Health through Life-Course (DNH)
World Health Organization
Regional Office for Western Pacific
Manila, Philippines
Tel: +63 2 5289886
Mobile: +63 908 8918188
E-mail: hassanm@wpro.who.int
Web: http://www.wpro.who.int

Mr Khew Swee Lian
Technical Officer
Health and the Environment (HAE)
Division of NCD and Health through Life-Course (DNH)
World Health Organization
Regional Office for Western Pacific
Manila, Philippines
Tel: +63 2 5289884
E-mail: khews@wpro.who.int
Web: http://www.wpro.who.int