The pursuit of economic development has brought about the overall economic improvement in the Western Pacific Region. It has also resulted in rapid urbanization and industrialization, and changes the physical and social environments in which people live. These changes have in turn affected their health and well-being.
According to the WHO recent estimates, environmental health risks, such as unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene, indoor and outdoor air pollution, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, noise, radiation, housing and community risks, traffic, unsafe occupational and recreational environments, inadequate water resource management and land use, man-made environmental emergencies, climate and ecosystem changes, attribute 2.9 million deaths, or 24% of the total deaths, and 58.8 million disability-adjusted life years lost (DALYs), or 22% of the total DALYs, annually in the Region. Over 90% of such deaths and disease burdens occur in developing countries of the Region, particularly among vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly.
In order to respond to these environmental health challenges in the Region, WHO has developed a regional strategy for environmental health with the objectives to: (1) Strengthen national capacity in environmental health risk assessment and management; (2) Enhance cooperation between health and environment sectors, and their cooperation with other socio-economic development sectors in solving problems; and (3) Promote inter-country cooperation in solving common and transboundary environmental health problems.