Health and Environment: Shaping a Better Future Together in Africa

Libreville, 5 November 2018 –  Aiming to identify emerging environmental threats to people’s health and agree on a strategic action plan for the region, African Ministers of health and environment will meet for the Third Interministerial Conference on Health and Environment from 6 to 9 November in Libreville, Gabon. The conference jointly organized by the government of Gabon, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment will discuss how to turn health and environmental policies into action.

In the African region, 23% of deaths are linked to the environment.  This 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.

“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,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa. “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.”

Nearly 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 will participate in the Conference.

The conference 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. It also comes ahead of the 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference to be held on African soil in Egypt this month and will discuss how to mainstream biodiversity into health sector, among other sectors.

“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,” said Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment, Africa Office.

“By working together, the health and environment sectors have the potential to design mutually reinforcing policies and strategies and turning them into concrete actions,” she added.

The Conference consists of an expert meeting from 6 to 7 November 2018 and a ministerial segment to be held from 8 to 9 November.


About WHO

The World Health Organization contributes to a better future for people everywhere. Good health lays the foundation for vibrant and productive communities, stronger economies, safer nations and a better world. Our work touches people’s lives around the world every day. As the lead health authority within the United Nations system, we help ensure the safety of the medicines and vaccines that treat and protect us, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink; and we support countries to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks and emergencies. We aim to provide every child, woman and man with the best chance to lead a long, healthy and fulfilled life. We listen to countries and monitor health trends to work out what needs to be done to protect human health. We use the best scientific evidence available to establish the most effective ways to prevent, treat and cure health problems. The vision of health for all is no longer a dream, but an achievable concrete reality.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

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For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
OKA Sakuya

Communications Manager (a.i)
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Tel: +242 06 508 1009
Email: okas [at] who.int

Mohamed Atani

Head of Communication and Outreach, UN Environment, Africa Office
Email: mohamed.atani [at] un.org
 Tel: +254 (0) 727531253