Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE)

WHO information to support preparedness and response to heat-waves

A mother and a child are playing with the fountains, Moscow, Russia.
WHO/S. Volkov

With the recent and ongoing extreme hot weather conditions across much of the northern hemisphere, WHO urges countries to prepare for heat-waves and hot spells.
Every year the health of many people, particularly the elderly and the chronically ill, is severely affected by high temperatures. Heat can trigger exhaustion, heart attacks or confusion and can make existing conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases worse. Yet the adverse health effects of hot weather are largely preventable through good public health practice, and there is much that individuals can do to protect themselves, their families and communities.

Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment

African woman washing her hands
WHO/ Stéphane Saporito

2015 marks the end of the Millennium Development Goal period, and while the global target for drinking-water was met ahead of schedule, the target for sanitation was missed by nearly 700 million people. The new JMP update report presents final MDG assessments for countries, regions, and the world, as well as a reflection on changes in monitoring of water, sanitation and hygiene since 1990.

Achieving a cleaner, more sustainable and healthier future

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change has been formed to map out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, in order to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. This Commission is multidisciplinary and international in nature, with strong collaboration between academic centres in Europe and China.

Health through a better environment

Environmental hazards are responsible for as much as a quarter of the total burden of disease world-wide, and more than one-third of the burden among children. Heading that list are diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries and malaria. The disease burden is much higher in the developing world, although in the case of certain non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the per capita disease burden is larger in developed countries. Health impacts of environmental hazards run across more than 80 diseases and types of injury.
Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk.
Worldwide, as many as 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.

In focus