World Health Organization Environmental Health Activities

The World Health Organization environmental health activities are examples of how a world organization works with national environmental health programs to help improve the environment and prevent disease and injury. In 2005, the World Health Organization stated that more than 3 million children under 5 years of age died each year globally from environment-related causes and conditions. This was 30% of the total of 10 million children dying each year. It also was an important factor in the well-being of the mother. The four major causes of death were: diarrhea from unsafe water and poor sanitation; indoor air pollution producing severe respiratory effects, especially from the burning of biomass fuels; malaria from mosquitoes breeding in areas with poor water management and storage, as well as inadequate protection and housing; and unintentional physical injuries in the home and other environments. In addition, lead in air, paint or dust, mercury in food, and other chemicals could pose severe potential risks for the fetus, infant, and older child.

In June 2009, at the Third World Health Organization International Conference on Children’s Health and the Environment in Korea, the World Health Organization was asked to help develop a global plan of action to improve children’s environmental health, monitor the plan, and report on the plan’s progress. The plan was to provide a comprehensive approach for the World Health Organization, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and all people seeking to improve the health of children.

To meet these priority goals, the ministers established a series of programs including technical support for countries, groups, and individuals to help reduce children’s environmental health hazards. They also established collaborative research efforts and appropriate exchanges of information. They set forth further goals to develop and start implementing national children’s environment and health action plans and cooperation with the World Health Organization.

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