A renewed effort to drive progress on sanitation as the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, was announced by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on behalf of the UNSG. The call to action on sanitation aims to focus on improving hygiene, changing social norms, better managing human waste and waste-water, and by 2025, completely eliminating the practice of open defecation, which perpetuates the cycle of disease and entrenched poverty.
Reduce outdoor air pollution for health and climate benefits
Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) could slow the rate of global warming while saving millions of lives over the next several decades from air pollution – which now kills more than 6 million people a year, according to some recent scientific estimates. Synergies are the focus of several side events at the year’s United Nations conference on climate change (COP19), taking place in Warsaw, 11-22 November, 2013.
WHO and Health Care without Harm have joined forces to launch a new initiative to get mercury removed from all medical measuring devices by 2020. The initiative ‘Mercury-Free Healthcare by 2020’ calls for the phase out of mercury fever thermometers and blood pressure devices containing mercury.
Environmental hazards are responsible for as much as a quarter of the total burden of disease world-wide, and more than one-third of the burden among children. Heading that list are diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries and malaria. The disease burden is much higher in the developing world, although in the case of certain non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the per capita disease burden is larger in developed countries. Health impacts of environmental hazards run across more than 80 diseases and types of injury.
Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk.
Worldwide, as many as 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.