LAHORE: The government is committed to providing safe water, food, adequate shelter and clean air to all people to ensure prosperity and growth, said Provincial Minister for Environment Protection Begum Zakia Shahnawaz Khan.
She was speaking at an event organised by the Project Management Unit-Punjab Public Health Agency (PMU-PPHA), Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, Government of the Punjab to mark World Environmental Health Day 2017 in collaboration with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef).
The minister said that the interaction of environment and health is vital for sustainable development.
The event was followed by a meeting of the technical working group in order to solidify a long-term action plans for various policies, including Punjab Environmental Health Strategy, Punjab Drinking Water Policy and other associated agendas.
PPHA CEO Dr Shabnum Sarfraz said environmental health was very important for human health and there was a need to adopt a cross-sector approach towards all challenges.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shabana Haider, who is a member of the Health, Planning and Development Department, called on stakeholders to increase collaboration and adopt effective measures to improve environmental health indicators.
Provincial Minister Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Khawaja Salman Rafique highlighted the increasing burden of environmental factors on health systems. He said personal steps needed to be taken to combat the effects of climate change and its implications on human health.
Provincial Minister Primary and Secondary Healthcare, Khawaja Imran Nazir emphasised upon the fact that environmental health today is not a single group’s challenge. “We need the meaningful engagement of everyone to improve the health of the people of the Punjab and tackle emerging challenges.”
Secretary Environment Protection Department Captain (retd) Saif Anjum said that the Environment Protection Department was keen to play an integral part in promoting healthy living practices and sustainable development to ensure long term viability.
Experts were of the view that human health is profoundly affected by weather and climate, and despite considerable progress in health services delivery and reforms over the last few years, a mixture of environmental health challenges is emerging as a threat to healthcare services in Punjab.
They said that deaths from extreme weather events such as heat, along with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, infectious disease outbreaks, and malnutrition are on the rise.
Punjab is experiencing a population boom and consequently, the burden of disease on limited healthcare resources is reaching critical levels. The effects of climate change aren’t limited to human health or healthcare systems either. They also undermine food and water supplies, overload the existing infrastructure, and stress existing social protection systems.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2017.
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