International Programme on Chemical Safety

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM): Health sector focus

Alejandra Fernandez/HCWH
Hospital Nacional de Niños, Costa Rica contributing to sound chemicals management by using mercury-free thermometers

SAICM is a policy framework to guide efforts to achieve the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goal that by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. SAICM is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The engagement of all relevant sectors and stakeholders in governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations is vital to achieve the SAICM goal. The health sector is central to this given its key roles and responsibilities in the sound management of chemicals.

WHO has played an important role in the establishment of SAICM, coordinating the inputs of health ministries and identifying the health sector priorities that were subsequently adopted in the Global Plan of Action of SAICM and contributing to staffing the SAICM secretariat. WHO continues to work to further strengthen the engagement of the health sector in implementation of SAICM in accordance with the health- sector priorities.

The International Conference on Chemicals Management provides periodic reviews of SAICM and governance to its operations. The third session of the Conference was held 17-21 September 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya and was attended by more than 100 Governments, 17 intergovernmental organizations and over 70 non-governmental organizations. The Conference made a number of significant health-related decisions including the adoption of a formal strategy to strengthen the engagement of the health sector in implementation of SAICM. WHO received an award at the Conference in recognition of its outstanding contribution to SAICM to date. Progress in implementing the health sector strategy will be reviewed at SAICM regional meetings held in the coming intersessional period and at the fourth session of the Conference to be held in 2015.