Twenty three per cent of deaths in the Africa region are said to be linked to poor environment, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has said.
This, according to the global health body, is the highest for any region in the world on a per capita basis (deaths per 100 000).
While 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.
In order to identify these emerging environmental threats to the health of the people and agree on a strategic action plan for the region, African Ministers of health and environment are currently meeting for the third Inter-ministerial conference on health and environment in Libreville, Gabon.
The conference was jointly organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment in order to discuss how to turn health and environmental policies into action.
Commenting on the relevance of the conference, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said: “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.”
“Unfortunately for millions of Africans, the environment can make them sick and even kill them. With climate change this is likely to only get worse. We must urgently turn this situation around.”
Close to 300 delegates including health, environment and finance ministers, as well as representatives from regional political and economic organizations, big cities, multilateral agencies and experts from 54 countries in Africa are currently in attendance at the Conference.