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Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Climate risks to health are growing but prioritized funding lacking to safeguard human health from climate change

3 December 2019, Madrid, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland –Safeguarding human health from climate change impacts is more urgent than ever, yet most countries are not acting fully on their own plans to achieve this, according to the first global snapshot of progress on climate change and health. The new report draws on data from 101 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and reported in the WHO Health and Climate Change Survey Report: Tracking global progress.

What are the health consequences of air pollution on populations?

66顺彩票appExposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes. It increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer. Both short and long term exposure to air pollutants have been associated with health impacts. More severe impacts affect people who are already ill. Children, the elderly and poor people are more susceptible. The most health-harmful pollutants – closely associated with excessive premature mortality – are fine PM2.5 particles that penetrate deep into lung passageways.

S. Moharram/Unsplash
paint brushes

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action

For the 7th consecutive year WHO will mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action 20-26 October 2019. The goal is to raise awareness worldwide about lead poisoning and encourage all countries to ban/stop the use of lead paint by 2020. Alternatives exist. Safe paint exists.
To date only 73 countries have legally-binding controls on lead paint. Since last year, several countries have taken action to, but this is not enough. With less than 1 year to reach the overall goal, efforts must be multiplied and a major push to eliminate lead paint is needed.

Pollution pods, New york 2019

Pollution pods connect the dots between air pollution, climate change and health at UN Climate Action Summit

23 September 2019 - New York City, United States of America. Visceral and interactive, the Pollution Pods art installation gets policymakers and influencers discussing the links among air pollution, health and climate change.
Air quality is difficult to visualize, making it easy to forget and thus a challenge to keep at the top of people’s minds– but one artist has given it a whirl, and his exhibition, brought to the UN Headquarters this week by the World Health Organization, is generating lively discussions by its influential visitors on the links among air pollution, climate change, health and subnational action.

The Climate Action Summit

66顺彩票appOn 23 September 2019, the Secretary-General of the United Nations will host the Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York, with the objectives of boosting ambition and rapidly accelerating action to implement the Paris Agreement. It is the most important political platform to launch initiatives addressing the health impacts of climate change, and to significantly raise the visibility of the health-climate nexus. Together with Spain and Peru, who are spearheading the development of the social and political drivers (SPD) track of the Climate Action Summit, WHO is inviting national and subnational Governments to sign up to strong health commitments in addressing air pollution and climate change together, through its clean air initiative.

girl drinking water

Weak systems and funding gaps jeopardize drinking-water and sanitation in the world’s poorest countries

28 August 2019 - The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Water today sounded the alarm for an urgent increase in investment in strong drinking-water and sanitation systems. The call came as the international water sector meets in Stockholm for its annual conference during World Water Week 2019 (25–30 August 2019). It is triggered by a new report published by WHO on behalf of UN-Water, which reveals that weak government systems and a lack of human resources and funds are jeopardizing the delivery of water and sanitation services in the world’s poorest countries – and undermining efforts to ensure health for all.

Unsplash/J. McClung
People drinking water, Limmen, The Netherlands

WHO calls for more research into microplastics and a crackdown on plastic pollution

22 August 2019, Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) today calls for a further assessment of microplastics in the environment and their potential impacts on human health, following the release of an analysis of current research related to microplastics in drinking-water. The Organization also calls for a reduction in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure.

66顺彩票app According to the analysis which summarizes the latest knowledge on microplastics in drinking-water, microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed in the human body and uptake of smaller particles is expected to be limited.

Unsplash/D. Brendel
Windmills, Worms, Germany

Health commitments for the SG Climate Action Summit

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September to meet the climate challenge.
The Summit will showcase a leap in collective national political ambition and it will demonstrate massive movements in the real economy in support of the agenda.

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Highlighted key area/topic

Air pollution                                         ? Chemical safety                                  ? Climate change                                   ? Occupational health                           ? Social determinants of health            ? Water, sanitation and health               ?

About us

66顺彩票appBy 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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More infographics

Commentary highlight

Health must be the number one priority for urban planners

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


More commentaries

New publication

Healthy environments for healthier populations: Why do they matter, and what can we do?

This document presents an overview of sectoral actions that can be taken by various actors – and the support that is being offered by the WHO – to create healthier environments, including in priority settings such as workplaces, cities, dwellings, health care facilities, and emergency settings.

Global Strategy

All PHE publications can be accessed:


WASH in health care facilities
3 April 2019


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

Environmental health in WHO regions

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