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‘Clean earth for good health’

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said health authorities must advocate environmental protection, clean-energy sources and transport, healthy housing as well as other means of promoting human well-being.

“As a public health practitioner, I know health cannot be improved without addressing the environment,” she said.

The environment department is seeking more experts who can help government develop sustainable science-based models which converge efforts for better promoting environmental protection and health nationwide.

“Our environment and health are interrelated—protecting the former will benefit the latter so I’m interested in having scientists and other experts join us in such endeavor,” Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said Saturday on the side of the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment held at WHO Regional Office at the Western Pacific Building in Manila.

Lopez noted such experts’ inputs would help bolster ongoing work on developing models that can be replicated in urban and rural areas around the country.

“The selling point of such models is improving quality of life,” she said, highlighting urgency for convergence.

Such goal was in line with the administration’s bid to promote social justice nationwide, Lopez noted.

“I hope we can have different models on the ground,” she said.

DENR and its partners already identified 26 rural and urban areas nationwide where government would pilot the models, she said.

UN assistant secretary-general and UNEP deputy executive director Ibrahim Thiaw lauded health and environment experts’ participation in the regional forum.

“Without a healthy environment, we can’t have healthy people,” Thiaw told the forum’s press conference also on Saturday.

He believes health and environment experts’ interest in the forum can “help break down barriers and nurture integration in many other areas like finance, transport, energy and security.”

“We should spread these emerging partnerships to other sectors like air pollution which can’t be tackled without coordinated effort across transport, energy and finance,” Thiaw said.

Ubial stressed the urgency for environment protection as she said providing more health facilities and professionals was not the sole means of promoting public health.

Established in 2007, Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment is a multi-country initiative for strengthening cooperation on health and the environment particularly amid climate change’s threats.

UN said during the forum, officials from 14 countries signed the Manila Declaration which seeks action on four emerging issues.

Those issues are anti-microbial resistance, transboundary haze and air pollution, transnational waste shipment as well as marine pollution and coral reef destruction, UN added. 

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