Improving environment is key to achieving social justice –Sec. Lopez

By: Herzon F. Gallego

BUTUAN CITY – The dialogue which was attended by the environment and health leaders of the Asia Pacific Region in Manila early this month (The Asia-Pacific Regional Forum and the 4th Ministerial Meeting at the World Health Organization) has brought positive outcomes to the Philippines and hopefully would improve the quality of environment and public health of the people.

            DENR Secretary Regina Lopez said in that forum that “sustaining and improving the quality of the environment to promote and enhance public health is the key to achieving social justice”.

            “The only way forward to realize this is for these member states to adopt appropriate measure and work to attain the global targets of the Agenda 2030 or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and engage and ensure the participation of the private sector, non-government organizations, academe, civil society organizations, and the media in the implementation of good practices on SDG-related programs” Sec. Lopez said.

The Manila Declaration on Health and Environment in reference to Agenda 2030 had propose to enhance and ensure access to safely managed water and adequate sanitation at home and in health care facilities; prioritize climate change preparedness and resilience, and invest in the proper management of chemicals and waste.

The leaders who attended the forum have encouraged their fellow members to address the environmental determinants of health in their respective regions.

“By effectively addressing environmental health risks, all of us here have the opportunity to save lives and mitigate unnecessary illness” says Dr. Proonam Khetrapal Singh, the World Health Organization Director for South-East Asia.

The Asia Pacific Ministers of Health and Environment have expressed confidence during the forum that through the dialogue, sharing of information and collaboration of both national and regional levels, they can transform the lives and health of the people and ensure the well-being of present and future generations.

The forum is an initiative of 14 countries (ASEAN +4) to strengthen the cooperation of environment and health authorities within and among the countries. 

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