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Health and environment.



Human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life and should be able to live in harmony with nature. This calls for proper linkage of health aspects with environmental health protection an emerging subject of intense debate and discussion at local, national, and international forums.

In his keynote address keynote address
n.
An opening address, as at a political convention, that outlines the issues to be considered. Also called keynote speech.

Noun 1.
 during the Third International Conference on Health and Environment: Global Partners for Global Solutions, The Honorable Dato' Mohd Farid Ariffin, Deputy Minister of Health of Malaysia, emphasized that the causes of environmental degradation Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.  are numerous. Activities in the name of development, aimed to elevate the quality of life, have resulted in the deterioration of the very resources that are needed for sustaining life, such as food, water, air, and soil. Rapid population growth and increasing poverty, two major factors affecting environment, development, and health in the world, are exerting heavy pressures on natural resources and the capacity of natural resources and the capacity of natural ecosystems to support human activity. He continued that it must be realized that the capacity of the natural environment is limited and this fact cannot be ignored if the goal is to enhance and improve the health and well being of world citizens. It must also be realized that health is closely related to development and the environment. However in many parts of the world, very little attention is paid to health aspects when environment and development are considered.

The warning bells have been sounded from as far back as 1913 when arsenic poisoning arsenic poisoning

Harmful effects of arsenic compounds (in pesticides, chemotherapy drugs, paints, etc.), most often from insecticide exposure. Susceptibility varies. Arsenic is believed to combine with certain enzymes, interfering with cellular metabolism.
 was reported in Argentina to as recent as the deaths in South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa.  caused by drowning in toxic sludge.

In developing countries, the major environmental health concerns are still those environmental factors contributing to the spread of infectious diseases infectious diseases: see communicable diseases. , all of which require provision of safe water, basic sanitation, adequate shelter, availability of food and handling practices, controlling disease vectors, and agricultural hazards.

In contrasts, the environmental health problems in developed countries are related to hazards at risk; liable to suffer damage or loss.

See also: Hazard
 that are related to environmental pollution and lifestyles which are based on higher consumption of natural resources, some of which include emissions from motor vehicles, industrial and municipal waste discharges, toxic and hazardous waste Hazardous waste

Any solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials that, if improperly managed or disposed of, may pose substantial hazards to human health and the environment. Every industrial country in the world has had problems with managing hazardous wastes.
, unhealthy diet, alcohols, smoking, and drug abuse.

Both the public sector and the private sectors in many countries are spending large sums of money to solve environmental problems, but not enough is targeted towards preventing these problems. There is a great deal of disagreement and confusion regarding the environmental health protection priorities, goals, and the allocation of resources allocation of resources

Apportionment of productive assets among different uses. The issue of resource allocation arises as societies seek to balance limited resources (capital, labour, land) against the various and often unlimited wants of their members.
.

Without a comprehensive and coordinated approach to environmental health protection, it will be impossible to properly balance the risks and the resources needed to address the risks. Talking of risks, I may say that the most critical environmental problem of today and in the future is and will be how we identify risks, assess these risks, define them, thoroughly understand these risks, prioritize them, and communicate these risks to all citizens. In doing so it becomes very critical also on how we handle the gap between scientific and public perception of environmental health risks.

The actions of the past are irreversible, and the release of more than three and a half billion pounds of toxic chemicals Any chemical which, through its chemical action on life processes, can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced  into the environment, as estimated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency "EPA" redirects here. For other uses see EPA (disambiguation) and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA
, has resulted in various adverse health impacts. Two-thirds of cancers, for example, have been attributed to environmental problems which could have been prevented. Other adverse health impacts are seen in the damage to the developing nervous system of children from lead contamination, decreased male sterility from debromochloropropane, as well as the largest cholera epidemic ever recorded which occurred in Peru in 1991.

Healthy environments and healthy populations are closely linked, and to ensure that environmental degradation does not adversely affect public health, appropriate planning decisions have to be made which more than just prevent or counter the problem of environmental pollution. It requires an active maintenance and promotion of health through improved social amenities and living and working environments.

Environmental health is by its nature an area which can draw considerable public interest. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate environmental health protection programs which identify vulnerable groups and their health risks and also to ensure that social factors which underlie these risks are taken into account in development policies and decisions.

Environmental health impact assessments should specifically report and comment on potential effects on human health rather than just providing data on point source emissions and ambient levels of pollutants pollutants

see environmental pollution.
. This then calls for the development of indicators of community health which can be derived from public health surveillance activities or pollution incidents and epidemiologic studies epidemiologic study A study that compares 2 groups of people who are alike except for one factor, such as exposure to a chemical or the presence of a health effect; the investigators try to determine if any factor is associated with the health effect  of disease clusters, which should all be integrated into a national environmental health database. Public health authorities could play a major role in constantly developing indicators of environment health and refining these indicators to improve the predictive availability of health impact assessments where such indicators are used.

It is important to maintain as a principle, that environmental health impact assessment is not considered a parallel process but rather an integral part of the environmental impact assessment process. This can be achieved through legislation which requires health impacts to be addressed explicitly in EIAs, development of health impact guidelines, development of avenues impact guidelines, development of avenues for access to health expertise and community input at different stages of the EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance, Arlington, VA, www.eia.org) A membership organization founded in 1924 as the Radio Manufacturing Association. It sets standards for consumer products and electronic components.  process, and the clarification of roles between agencies.

As any other developing country, Malaysia has to balance its development priorities against effective environmental and health management. The impact of environmental measures on national economy will have to be considered along with the implications of affecting foreign investment as against a well-regulated environment.

Nevertheless, in achieving this economic growth. Malaysia recognizes that the well being of the people cannot be ignored or compromised since their health is fundamental to a nation's development and progress. Also, recognizing the fact that the health of the people is inextricably in·ex·tri·ca·ble  
adj.
1.
a. So intricate or entangled as to make escape impossible: an inextricable maze; an inextricable web of deceit.

b.
 linked to a sound environment, Malaysia strives to strike a balance between economic growth and sustainable development Sustainable development is a socio-ecological process characterized by the fulfilment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment indefinitely. The linkage between environment and development was globally recognized in 1980, when the International Union .

Towards the achievement of sustainable development, health and socio-economic objectives, such as eradication of poverty and equity of benefits, have been incorporated as development priorities. Hence, Malaysia has integrated the main themes of Agenda 21 into its national policies and continues to pursue the integration of other Agenda 21 themes.

Malaysia is also taking steps to be a party to the Based Convention and currently observes and complies with the recommended guidelines on toxic and hazardous waste. Steps are also being taken to plan and design permanent treatment and disposal sites for toxic and hazardous waste derived from electronic industries, metal electroplating electroplating: see plating.
electroplating

Process of coating with metal by means of an electric current. Plating metal may be transferred to conductive surfaces (e.g., metals) or to nonconductive surfaces (e.g.
 industries, and other industries related to chemicals, rubber, plastics, printing, packaging, tanneries, and pharmaceuticals.

While Malaysia promotes cooperation, involvement, and consultation with various groups including NGO's, a legislative framework has been set in place in order to achieve the goals of sustainable development principle. Among these is the Environmental Quality Act of 1974, amended in 1984, and its 17 subsidiary regulations which collectively aim to prevent, abate abate v. to do away with a problem, such as a public or private nuisance or some structure built contrary to public policy. This can include dikes which illegally direct water onto a neighbors property, high volume noise from a rock band or a factory, an improvement , and control pollution. The Environmental Impact Assessment Order of 1987 requires EIA studies to be conducted for any proposed development falling under the definition of prescribed activities. This very move has set in motion awareness in preventing and mitigating environmental problems. This is a holistic legislation to ensure that there are adequate and effective environmental considerations. During planning of development activities and projects, 19 categories of development activities require that EIA reports be submitted. These include agricultural land reclamation Land reclamation is either of two distinct practices. One involves creating new land from sea- or riverbeds, the other refers to restoring an area to a more natural state (such as after pollution or salination have made it unusable). , housing, industry, infrastructure, waste treatment and disposal, and water supply. The EIA order is a legislative procedure for approving or rejecting the report about the project, not the project itself. It acts as a mechanism for improving planning of redevelopment projects, determining when effects are unacceptable and deciding methods for avoiding some effects and mitigating the remainder.

Apart from these, Malaysia has geared itself towards the improvement of environmental health as is evidenced by the incentives announced in the 1994 budget which among other things provide for tax exemptions for investment in timber plantations, catalytic converters, and other pollution control equipment, as well as the 2.7% reduction in the price of unleaded fuel. An extensive healthcare system is in place which not only provides basic healthcare services and promotion of hygienic hy·gien·ic
adj.
1. Of or relating to hygiene.

2. Tending to promote or preserve health.

3. Sanitary.
 practices among the rural population but is able to control, prevent, and treat tropical disease Tropical diseases are infectious diseases that either occur uniquely in tropical and subtropical regions (which is rare) or, more commonly, are either more widespread in the tropics or more difficult to prevent or control. , as well as disease of modern living, such as cardiovascular disease Cardiovascular disease
Disease that affects the heart and blood vessels.

Mentioned in: Lipoproteins Test

cardiovascular disease 
 and cancer.

Eighty nine percent of Malaysians will have access to piped, treated public water by 1996. In 1988, a national action plan was developed for municipal solid waste “Municipal waste” redirects here. For other uses, see Municipal waste (disambiguation).
Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a waste type that includes predominantly household waste (domestic waste) with sometimes the addition of commercial wastes collected by a
 management which identified the scope for combining recycling incineration incineration

the act of burning to ashes.
, and sanitary landfilling coupled with efficient collection systems as important components for improving cleanliness Cleanliness
See also Orderliness.

Cleverness (See CUNNING.)

Berchta

unkempt herself, demands cleanliness from others, especially children. [Ger. Folklore: Leach, 137]

cat

continually “washes” itself.
 in the urban areas. Currently, the privatization privatization: see nationalization.
privatization

Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned
 of solid waste management services is being implemented which will then provide extensive and efficient waste management services throughout the country.

In pursuit of implementing Agenda 21, three functions are seen as necessary: capacity building to provide the human resource and the skills, technology transfer to provide the facilities and techniques, and the financial resources to support sustainable development and promote environmental health. Since environmental health issues are multisectorial and transboundary in nature, international partnerships and commitments in terms of adequate financing, appropriate trade conditions, and technology transfer become essential.

In the partnerships that are developed, it must be borne in mind that the poorer developing countries face a more difficult challenge where in they have to combat both the traditional health problems of diarrheal diseases, vector-borne diseases vector-borne disease Infectious diseases Any infection, usually transmitted by insects–eg, ticks–eg, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, Colorado tick fever; mosquitos–eg, California-or La Crosse, St Louis, Eastern, Western , and parasitic infections, as well as the emerging environmental health problems resulting from development. Thus the standard for environmental health must be realistic so as not to preclude resources essential for addressing more pressing problems.

It must also be borne in mind that developing countries need to continually strive for development. The challenge they face is that it cannot be done at the expense of the environment. In addition, a large number for developing countries are not equipped and prepared to integrate health into their development planning or even to deal with the most pressing environmental problems confronting them.

This issue is even more critical in rapidly industrializing countries where capability building falls far short of the increasing impact of pollution on the environment and the depletion of natural resources. In many countries, I must point out, there have not been active involvement of health authorities in development and environmental management, and I hope that the WHO's Global Strategy for Health and Environment will seek increased health intervention health intervention Health care An activity undertaken to prevent, improve, or stabilize a medical condition  of all future developmental activities.

Standards must be set in the spirit of global partnership to solve global problems such as global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. , ozone depletion Ozone depletion describes two distinct, but related observations: a slow, steady decline of about 4 percent per decade in the total amount of ozone in Earth's stratosphere since around 1980; and a much larger, but seasonal, decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth's polar regions , and acid rain which cannot be solved singularly by any one nation. There must be recognition of shared, albeit differentiated responsibilities among all nations and a strong commitment towards sustainable development for the benefit of all peoples today and tomorrow.

This sense of responsibility and commitment may perhaps be strengthened by remembering that "the world was not bequeathed to us by our parents but rather entrusted to us by our children."
COPYRIGHT 1995 National Environmental Health Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:International Perspectives; excerpt from speech by the Malaysian Deputy Minister for Health Dato' Mohd Farid Ariffin
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Words:1860
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