Health, environmental goals agreement signed by 14 Asia Pacific countries

October 10, 2016

Officials and high-level ministers from 14 Asia Pacific countries assembled and signed the Manila Declaration on Health and Environment on October 8. The agreement will provide specific sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the health and environment sectors can adopt within and among the states represented in the assembly.

Antimicrobial resistance; transboundary air pollution; Illegal transnational shipment of waste; destruction of coral reefs and marine pollution; and promotion of environment and health impact assessment are the issues that will be addressed by the declaration.

The declaration was discussed during the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) headquarters in Manila, Philippines. The regional forum also emphasized the commitments made by Asia Pacific under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Health and environment ministers agreed to implement the following measures under Section 7 of the Manila Declaration:

  • Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This includes universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services, and hygiene, especially for women, wastewater management and integrated water resource management;
  • Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, realize the health benefits of mitigation actions by ensuring clean air for health and well-being, including prevention of the recurrence of transboundary haze through the promotion of sustainable management of forests and the prevention of land degradation and biodiversity losses and orient development and public health systems to become more climate-resilient;
  • Substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination through environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life-cycle and substantial reduction of waste through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse;
  • Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, with special attention to air quality and the integrated management of municipal and other waste as well as vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria;
  • And protect the health of the working population.

“We believe that through dialogue, sharing of information and collaboration both at national and regional levels, we can transform our lives, our health, and our environment to ensure the well-being of current generations and protect future generations from disasters,” the declaration further reads.

Philippines Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said the country’s Department of Health (DoH) is working on improving health services in the countryside under the “Philippine Health Agenda 2016-2022,” adding that this will help solve the problems brought by rapid urbanization.

“Whether it’s urban or rural, the idea is for Filipinos, wherever they are, to have access to quality health services,” the health chief stated. Peripheral health services are also being strengthened so people from rural areas won’t have to go to Manila for quality health services, she said.

Meanwhile, WHO regional director of the Office for the Western Pacific Dr. Shin Young-soo explained that better infrastructure must accommodate the growing population in the metro to confront the traffic situation. Dr. Shin added that urban infrastructure is linked to the population’s health and the environment.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment was established in 2007 to jointly tackle the pressing issues of climate change, air pollution, safe water, sanitation and health hazardous chemicals in pursuit of health and sustainable development.


Category: Community, Features

Comments are closed.