Environment and Climate Change
It is estimated globally that 24% of the burden of disease and 23% of all deaths – an estimated 12.6 million every year are linked to environmental risks such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and radiation. At the same time, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented by focusing on reducing environmental risk factors. Nepal is not an exception where environmental pollution remains one of the major health issues especially in urban areas where most of the people have been directly affected by air pollution and unsafe water. The Environmental Health Unit in line with Country Co-operation Strategy, WHO’s global commitment in this area and in order to achieve relevant targets specified in SDG has been working on those areas to prevent or reduce health consequences of environmental risk factors.
Currently the major working areas of the Unit are water quality, health care waste management, climate change, air quality and chemical safety. It supports to improve environmental health condition through
• Assessment, evidence based research and management of environmental risks resulting from use of unsafe water, lack of sanitation, climate change, outdoor and indoor air pollution and haphazard use of chemicals
• Development of guidelines, standards, handbooks and piloting on major environmental hazards to health
• Preparation of training manuals and advocacy materials to aware the general public and build capacities of different professionals based on those developed materials
• Initiatives to promote development and implementation of environmental friendly policies and plans that promote human health.
In addition to the Ministry of Health, the Unit works closely with Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation (MoWSS) on water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and climate change; with Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) on climate change, air pollution and other environmental issues. It also has working relationship with other government agencies, development partners, N/INGOs, academia and civil societies. Moreover the Unit has been implementing projects related with climate change and air pollution to promote environmental health in the country.