Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Windmills, Worms, Germany

Health commitments for the SG Climate Action Summit

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September to meet the climate challenge.
The Summit will showcase a leap in collective national political ambition and it will demonstrate massive movements in the real economy in support of the agenda.

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash
People sitting by a pool, Hungary

Health advice: how to keep cool in the heat

25 June 2019 – Every year, high temperatures affect the health of many people, and are becoming more extreme and frequent due to climate change. Older people, infants, people who work outdoors and those who are chronically ill, are particularly at risk. Heat can trigger exhaustion or heat stroke, and can worsen existing conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory and kidney diseases, and mental disorders.
Yet the adverse health effects of hot weather are largely preventable through good health practices.
With extreme hot weather currently experienced or forecast in Asia and Europe, we urge you to be prepared for heatwaves and the possible health consequences of heat exposure.

© Panos/Balazs Mohai
Old lady at a water tap

1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water – UNICEF, WHO

18 June 2019, New York/Geneva - Billions of people around the world are continuing to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.
The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities finds that, while significant progress has been made toward achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene, there are huge gaps in the quality of services provided.

Stalks of smoke, pollution

World Environment Day events around the world

With 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathing polluted air, the United Nations Environment is focusing on tackling the growing yet overlooked threat of air pollution, for this year’s World Environment Day. Each year on World Environment Day, thousands of cities, schools, non-governmental organizations, businesses and groups organize creative and fun events to inspire further action. Several cities are pledging to join BreatheLife--making an ongoing commitment to meet WHO air quality guideline, as part of World Environment Day. Register your event and explore the over 1,500 events happening around the globe.

Unsplash/Sam Bark
WHA 66 at the United Nations, Geneva

Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health at the 72nd World Health Assembly, 20-28 May 2019

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 72st Annual World Health Assembly (WHA) will take place from 20 to 28 May 2019 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body, setting out the Organization’s policy and approving its budget.
The general theme of this year’s World Health Assembly is Universal Health Coverage: Leaving no-one behind”.
The WHA will discuss 4 agenda items related to health, environment and climate change.

Hands washing under a tap

1 in 4 health care facilities lacks basic water services – UNICEF, WHO

3 April 2019 - The WHO/UNICEF JMP report, WASH in Health Care Facilities, is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities. It also finds that one in five health care facilities have no sanitation service, impacting 1.5 billion people. The report also reveals that many health centres lack basic facilities for hand hygiene and safe segregation and disposal of health care waste.
These services are crucial to preventing infections, reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance and providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.


2019 World Water Day

World Water Day is coming up on 22nd March in the theme of “No One Left Behind”.
- Learn about the topic: theme facts and figures and stories to get inspired related to the topic.
- Organize an event/activity - add your event to our world map, promote it and link up to others. Download posters, factsheet, logos and campaign memes.
- Support the cause on your favourite social media channel.

Executive Board meeting

WHO Executive Board Meeting

The 144th session of Executive Board (EB) will convene in Geneva, 24 January-1 February 2019. This year, the EB will discuss the proposed programme budget 2020-2021, polio eradication and transition, Universal Health Coverage, Health Environment and Climate Change; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Health Care Facilities, and a range of many other topics.


Highlighted key area/topic

Air pollution                                         » Chemical safety                                  » Climate change                                   » Occupational health                           » Social determinants of health            » Water, sanitation and health               »

About us

By focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented. Examples include promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures, safer management of toxic substances in the home and workplace.

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Healthy Environments for Children Alliance (HECA)

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Commentary highlight

Health must be the number one priority for urban planners

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Twitter @DrMariaNeira

More commentaries

Publication highlight

Preventing disease through a healthier and safer workplace

A global assessment on the health impacts that could be avoided through healthier and safer workplaces.

Global Strategy

All PHE publications can be accessed:


WASH in health care facilities
3 April 2019


Statistical information

Quantifying environmental health impacts

The environmental burden of disease quantifies the amount of disease caused by environmental risks.

Public health and environment in the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

Mortality and burden of disease from unhealthy environment