|Mainstreaming the Sound Management of Chemicals - Children Environmental Health Project|
UNEP DTIE Chemicals Branch, with the support of the Government of Japan and in collaboration with Governments from developed and developing countries, IOMC organizations, private sector and civil society, implemented a project to prioritize the environmental health risks focusing on chemicals among children in developing countries.
Healthy children in healthy environments are essential for sustainable development. However, the health and well-being of children around the world is being compromised by a range of adverse environmental factors. Developing regions carry a disproportionately heavy share of the environmental disease burden and children in developing nations have the highest death rates. An estimated 4 million child deaths each year (mostly in developing countries) are linked to both traditional environmental hazards (unsafe water, lack of sanitation, contaminated food, indoor air pollution) and modern environmental hazards (outdoor air pollution, climate change, hazardous chemicals and waste).
While significant strides in children’s health protection by some countries and partner intergovernmental organizations (WHO, UNEP, UNICEF) have been made since 1997, the G8 High Level Environment Ministerial meeting (Siracusa, Italy, April 2009) concluded that more should be done to ensure that children are born, grow, develop and thrive in healthy environments. The renewed call on Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) in 2009 serves as an impetus to reinvigorate and expand efforts on the issue.
Currently, birth cohort researches on exposure and health linkages are being done in Japan, USA, Italy, UK, Australia, Norway, Denmark, France, Israel, China, Republic of Korea, Canada and Spain. The G8 Ministerial meeting endorsed the conduct and collaboration of these long term cohort studies and opportunities for outreach in developing countries. The Ministry of Environment Japan and the US Environment Protection Agency are partnering on epidemiological studies on CEH and are inviting UNEP Chemicals, WHO Public Health and Environment and the OECD to assist in their efforts as part of international cooperation. UNEP Executive Director has also offered UNEP technical assistance to reduce chemicals that pose a threat to children – recognized as one of the populations most susceptible to chemical health risks.
The work on CEH has also been in line with the objectives of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and the UNEP Governing Council 26 Chemicals and waste decision that called for the elaboration of the health and environment linkages in response to the Libreville declaration and the Luanda commitment for its implementation.
In response to the call for collaborative research and drawing upon the experience of G8 countries, the project began in May 2010 aimed at scoping the research needs and stimulating interest among developing countries to promote national researches in relation to environmental chemicals and common childhood diseases. The study also assessed the potential risk management responses to such issues and proposes concrete steps that nations can take to reduce the identified chemical risks.
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