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CENTENARY REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 136  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 185-191

The challenge of health & environment: Profiling risks & strategic priorities for now & the future


Epidemiology & EIS, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Jai P Narain
Senior Advisor (Epidemiology & EIS), National Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, 22, Sham Nath Marg, Delhi 110 054
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 22960884

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A substantial burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the developing countries is attributable to environmental risk factors. WHO estimates that the environmental factors are responsible for an estimated 24 per cent of the global burden of disease in terms of healthy life years lost and 23 per cent of all deaths; children being the worst sufferers. Given that the environment is linked with most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), without proper attention to the environmental risk factors and their management, it will be difficult to achieve many MDGs by 2015. The impact of environmental degradation on health may continue well into the future and the situation in fact, is likely to get worse. In order to address this challenge, two facts are worth noting. First, that much of the environmental disease burden is attributable to a few critical risk factors which include unsafe water and sanitation, exposure to indoor smoke from cooking fuel, outdoor air pollution, exposure to chemicals such as arsenic, and climate change. Second, that environment and health aspects must become, as a matter of urgency, a national priority, both in terms of policy and resources allocation. To meet the challenge of health and environment now and in the future, the following strategic approaches must be considered which include conducting environmental and health impact assessments; strengthening national environmental health policy and infrastructure; fostering inter-sectoral co-ordination and partnerships; mobilizing public participation; and enhancing the leadership role of health in advocacy, stewardship and capacity building.


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