International Programme on Chemical Safety

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM): Health sector focus

Hospital Nacional de Niños, Costa Rica contributing to sound chemicals management by using mercury-free thermometers
Alejandra Fernandez/HCWH

SAICM is a policy framework to guide efforts to achieve the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goal that by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. SAICM is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The engagement of all relevant sectors and stakeholders in governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations is vital to achieve the SAICM goal. The health sector is central to this given its key roles and responsibilities in the sound management of chemicals.

WHO has played an important role in the establishment of SAICM, coordinating the inputs of health ministries and identifying the health sector priorities that were subsequently adopted in the Global Plan of Action of SAICM and contributing to staffing the SAICM secretariat. WHO continues to work to further strengthen the engagement of the health sector in implementation of SAICM in accordance with the health- sector priorities.

The International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) provides periodic reviews of SAICM and governance to its operations. The fourth session of ICCM was held from 28 September to 2 October 2015 in Geneva. Over 800 delegates, including ministers, CEOs, heads of intergovernmental organizations and leaders of civil society identified remaining challenges and adopted strategic decisions towards achieving the goal of sound management of chemicals by 2020. A key achievement for the health sector during ICCM4 was the acknowledgement of the health sector priorities, and their attachment to the meeting report. More information on the health sector priorities can be found here:

The fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management

Photo Courtesy of: IISD

WHO (co-)organised various activities during ICCM4 including a health sector meeting side event - attended by over 100 participants - to discuss how to follow up with implementing the identified health sector priorities. A WHO exhibition booth included an interactive exercise to introduce the Health in All Policies concept to the chemicals community. More information on this activity can be found here: