African Ministers of Health and Environment have ended four interactive discussions at the 3rd interministerial conference on health and environmental threats in Libreville, Gabon.
The conference, which focused on turning health and environmental policies into action was jointly organised by the World Health Organization and UN Environment to identify emerging environmental threats and as well foster a strategic action plan for the continent.
Speaking at the forum WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso urged regional authorities to strengthen efforts in policies and actions in curbing environmental consequences, which he said affect millions of lives in Africa.
“From the air we breathe to the water we drink, to the places we live and work the environment is intimately linked to our health. We must urgently turn this situation around, given that climate change will likely worsen things,” she added.
A representative from UN Environment office for Africa, Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo said: “Tackling the interlinkages between environment and human health can provide a common platform and multiplier effect to sustain progress across many of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063 in a more cost-effective and beneficial manner.”
She noted that by working together, the health and environment sectors have the potential to design mutually reinforcing policies and strategies and turning them into concrete actions.
Meanwhile, as the continent has long been plagued by problems relating to access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor infrastructure, pollution, new environmental threats have emerged, including climate change and rapid and unplanned urbanization. 23% of deaths in Africa are said to be linked to the environment.
The highest for any region in the world per capita basis (deaths per 100 000).
The convergence comes a decade after the historic endorsement of the Libreville Declaration by the African Ministers of Health and Environment, which committed governments to take the required measures to stimulate synergies between health, environment and other relevant sectors.