Source: Small Island Developing States
9 November 2018: African ministers for health and environment adopted a ten-year framework to direct funds toward joint health and environment initiatives, supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), partners and donors. The Strategic Action Plan to Scale Up Health and Environmental Interventions in Africa 2019-2029 is expected to promote government investment in addressing environmental problems that affect human health, such as air pollution, contamination of water sources, and ecosystem damage.
The Strategic Action Plan is an outcome of the Third Inter-ministerial Conference on Health and Environment, which took place in Libreville, Gabon, from 6-9 November 2018. The Plan calls for linking investment proposals to national development plans. Magaran Bagayoko, WHO Africa, said urgent investments are needed to achieve the visions laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, adding, “the days of economic growth at the expense of the environment must end for Africa.” Other speakers encouraged governments to identify specific needs and to integrate them into national budgeting processes.
WHO estimates that almost one in four premature deaths in Africa have environmental causes, and that climate change is likely to increase the number of health emergencies and disease outbreaks. Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment, urged all concerned to take action on air pollution, noting that it is responsible for seven million deaths around the world annually.
The Strategic Action Plan will be presented to the AU for endorsement, and will feed into the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), convening from 11-15 March 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2008, ministers from 52 African countries recognized the need to address the combined challenges of health and environmental quality in the Libreville Declaration on Health and the Environment for Africa. They established the Health and Environment Strategic Alliance (HESA) to coordinate action between the health and environment sectors in African countries and support joint implementation of the Declaration. [UN Environment press release] [HESA press release] [HESA website]