World health report

Executive summary

Promotion and protection of health

WHO encourages the adoption of healthy lifestyles. For this purpose a Five-year action plan, leading health promotion into the 21st century was launched in 1996. It focuses on advocacy for health, empowerment of communities and design of media strategies for health.

Safe food and good nutrition are cornerstones of socioeconomic development. In 1996 outbreaks of infection with the foodborne pathogen entero-haemorrhagic Escherichia coli occurred in Japan and the United Kingdom. WHO kept the international public health community informed by issuing articles and fact sheets on this and other emerging foodborne diseases.

Human health continues to be adversely affected by many environmental factors, ranging from climate change to water supply. In 1996, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in which WHO participates, was instrumental in securing new international commitments to deal with the root causes of global climate change.

The WHO Healthy Cities programme continued to expand during the year. A dialogue on health and human settlements was convened, which stressed the participatory approach and the important role of local authorities in addressing health and environment issues in urban areas. World Health Day 1996, on the theme "Healthy cities for better life", involved over 1000 participating cities around the world.

WHO is the executing agency of the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), operated jointly with ILO and UNEP. In the field of assessment of risks to human health and the environment from exposure to chemicals, validated information was produced in the form of international chemical safety cards, data sheets on pesticides and the classification of pesticides by hazard. Over 30 poison information monographs and 14 treatment guides were reviewed and finalized. All IPCS publications are now available on CD-ROM. A training project for decision-makers and risk managers was launched in 15 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.