Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Dr Tetros WHO Director General at Executive Board January 2018

142nd session of the WHO Executive Board

22 January 2018 – This week the WHO Executive Board (EB) is setting the agenda for the World Health Assembly, and determining how to best promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. Among the key documents the EB will discuss the report Health, Environment and Climate Change.

Responding to health needs of vulnerable population in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

UN Environment and WHO collaboration on environmental health

10 January 2018 – UN Environment and WHO have agreed a new, wide-ranging collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year. This represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years.

WHO / Bangladesh

Join the Campaign for World Toilet Day 2017

19 November 2017 - Safely managed sanitation and safe use of wastewater and excreta are fundamental to protecting public health.
Join the global campaign for World Toilet Day by downloading a sharing campaign materials and organizing an event.
Learn more from WHO factsheets, videos and tools on sanitation wastewater and health:

Rising water levels in the island nation of Kiribati

COP 23 and High-Level Event on Health

6-17 November 2017, Bonn. The Paris Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015, marked the beginning of a new era in the global response to climate change. At this year’s Climate Change Conference, Health will be a key theme. Among cross-sectoral events which will feature health throughout the conference, there will be a high-level event addressing “Health Actions for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement” on November 12th 2017.

Air pollution in cities, India

Air pollution

9 November 2017 -- Air pollution is the biggest and most pressing environmental threat to health. Globally, it is responsible for 1 in 9 premature deaths causing cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive respiratory diseases, lung cancer in adults and acute lower respiratory tract infections in children under- five. In WHO South-East Asia Region most cities are breathing air far in excess of WHO Guideline levels and many households are exposed to unacceptable levels of household air pollution.

WHO/V. Gupta-Smith

Keeping the vector out - Housing improvements for vector control and sustainable development

7 November 2017 - WHO has produced the policy brief “Keeping the vector out: housing improvements for vector control and sustainable development” that contributes to recognize the importance of integrated approaches of vector control and aiming at highlighting effective housing interventions to prevent vector-borne diseases.

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action

22-28 October 2017 marks the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action, with a particular focus on eliminating lead paint. Lead poisoning is preventable, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation lead exposure accounted for 494 550 deaths and 9.3 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.

PHE health topics

Specialized key area/topic

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments - nearly one in four of total global deaths. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

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By focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented. Examples include promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures, safer management of toxic substances in the home and workplace.

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Air pollution news

Read more about emergency situation in New Delhi

Commentary highlight

Environments should improve not harm our health

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Twitter @DrMariaNeira

More commentaries

Publication highlight

Preventing disease through healthy environments

A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks

Global Strategy Overview

More publications


Statistical information

Quantifying environmental health impacts

The environmental burden of disease quantifies the amount of disease caused by environmental risks.

Public health and environment in the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

Mortality and burden of disease from unhealthy environment


Statement by Dr Maria Neira on International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action 2016

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