Summit of Arab League adopts strategy on health and environment

Arab Leaders, during the Summit of the Arab League convened in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on April 15, adopted the Arab strategy on health and the environment and its strategic action guideline (2017–2030).

Developed by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and WHO Regional Centre for Environmental Health Action (CEHA), and endorsed by all Arab States through the Council of Arab Health Ministers and the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, the implementation of the strategy and its strategic action guideline will be followed-up jointly by the two Arab ministerial councils, a WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region report on Wednesday said.

WHO estimates that environmental degradation is causing over 628000 premature fatalities annually and 24 million disability adjusted life-years (DALYs), representing 23 per cent of total deaths in the Arab region and increasing to 26 per cent in children under five years of age.

The Arab Strategy outlines nine environmental health priorities in the areas like water, sanitation and health, air pollution, food safety, chemical safety, waste management and environmental health services, environmental health emergency management, climate change and health, sustainable development and health and occupational health and safety.

In a collaborative multi-agency strategic approach, the health and environment ministries in the Arab region will be assuming the roles of stewarding broker and interlocutor in partnership with other stakeholders to take preventive actions and corrective interventions.

The Arab League, WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide technical support to Arab states in this regards.

Dr Jaouad Mahjour, WHO Regional Director stated, “This is indeed very good news and CEHA is geared to support our member states in implementing this ecological-health strategy, to reduce the morbidity and mortality attributable to environmental risk factors in the Arab region and beyond”.

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