Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

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.

Neglected Tropical Diseases: WHO launches toolkit to optimize water, sanitation and hygiene interventions

31 January 2019 - The World Health Organization launched a new toolkit to help improve delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to underserved populations affected by many neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Building on WHO’s 2015 global strategy the toolkit, WASH and Health working together: a ‘how to guide’ for NTD programmes, focuses on providing step-by-step guidance to disease programme managers, volunteers and implementing partners on to how to engage and work collaboratively with WASH agencies.
The toolkit demonstrates the importance of collaboration not just across sectors but also between WHO and the multiple partners that support ministries of health, worldwide.

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.

Young people facing a laptop at a table, open space

The Global Commission on the Future of Work calls for fundamental changes in health at work

22 January 2019, Geneva –The ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work calls for fundamental changes in the way we work in the new wave of globalization, rapid technological development, demographic transition and climate change, according to its report Work for a Brighter Future published today. The report examines how to achieve a better future of work for all at a time of unprecedented change and exceptional challenges in the world of work.
These changes require placing health higher on the agenda of the world of work. Everybody has the right to health, which is defined by WHO as a state of complete physical and mental wellbeing and not only the absence of disease and infirmity. Working people have also the right to health and to healthcare as close as possible to where they live and work.


COP24 special report on health and climate change

3-14 December 2018, Katowice, Poland - In its latest report, WHO highlights health as the biggest issue to be prioritized during COP-24 and provides key recommendations to the negotiators on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change and avoid the worse health impacts of this global challenge. Although there has been hugely positive progress in tackling health and climate change issues, there is a still a long way to go. Millions of people are still exposed to air pollution globally, resulting in 7 million premature deaths every year; 3 billion people still lack access to clean and reliable energy; and nearly a quarter of all deaths worldwide result from people having to live or work in unhealthy environments. Unless significant changes are made and stronger action taken, we are risk of failing to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

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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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