Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Join the Campaign for World Toilet Day 2017

19 November 2017 - Safely managed sanitation and safe use of wastewater and excreta are fundamental to protecting public health.
Join the global campaign for World Toilet Day by downloading a sharing campaign materials and organizing an event.
Learn more from WHO factsheets, videos and tools on sanitation wastewater and health:

Rising water levels in the island nation of Kiribati

COP 23 and High-Level Event on Health

6-17 November 2017, Bonn. The Paris Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015, marked the beginning of a new era in the global response to climate change. At this year’s Climate Change Conference, Health will be a key theme. Among cross-sectoral events which will feature health throughout the conference, there will be a high-level event addressing “Health Actions for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement” on November 12th 2017.

Air pollution in cities, India

Air pollution

9 November 2017 -- Air pollution is the biggest and most pressing environmental threat to health. Globally, it is responsible for 1 in 9 premature deaths causing cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive respiratory diseases, lung cancer in adults and acute lower respiratory tract infections in children under- five. In WHO South-East Asia Region most cities are breathing air far in excess of WHO Guideline levels and many households are exposed to unacceptable levels of household air pollution.

WHO/V. Gupta-Smith

Keeping the vector out - Housing improvements for vector control and sustainable development

7 November 2017 - WHO has produced the policy brief “Keeping the vector out: housing improvements for vector control and sustainable development” that contributes to recognize the importance of integrated approaches of vector control and aiming at highlighting effective housing interventions to prevent vector-borne diseases.

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action

22-28 October 2017 marks the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action, with a particular focus on eliminating lead paint. Lead poisoning is preventable, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation lead exposure accounted for 494 550 deaths and 9.3 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.

Biker on a cycle path, Thailand

Towards a healthier and safer environment

19 October 2017 – Today, we have more knowledge, evidence, and understanding than ever before about how and through what pathways climate and environmental change impact health. We know which sector policies and interventions effectively address environmental root causes of disease and in which settings these interventions will likely have the greatest impact.

WHO/Diego Rodriguez

Progressing the Sustainable Development Goals through Health in All Policies: case studies from around the world

12 October 2017 - WHO and the Government of South Australia published the Case Study Book on Health in All Policies (HiAP), which describes experiences from around the world in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. While there is no single or simple model for HiAP, there is a growing evidence base of facilitating conditions for HiAP.
The case study book documents experiences, capturing important elements of HiAP practice through an analysis of established and emerging models, it is aimed at the international community and the broader sustainable development network. It will be of interest to those who want to know more about implementing HiAP.

PHE health topics

Group photo of adolescent boys fishing by the sea

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments - nearly one in four of total global deaths. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

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Air pollution news

9 November 2017 - Emergency situation in New Delhi

Commentary highlight

Environments should improve not harm our health

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

Twitter @DrMariaNeira

More commentaries

Publication highlight

Preventing disease through healthy environments

A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks

Global Strategy Overview

More publications

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.

Environmental health in WHO regions


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


Statement by Dr Maria Neira on International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action 2016

Latest PHE feature