People’s Participation Significant in Sustainable Health, Development

People’s Participation Significant  in Sustainable Health, Development
People’s Participation Significant  in Sustainable Health, Development

At the 19th national conference on Environmental Health and Sustainable Development, deputy ministers of health reiterated the significance of communal cooperation and public participation in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

“It is imperative to note that targets set in each SDG affects public health directly and indirectly,” said Mohammad Hadi Ayyazi, deputy health minister  for social affairs, ISNA reported.

“Experience in the country indicates that to achieve the SDG targets people’s active participation and presence will be necessary,” he stressed.

With 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs are a set of goals adopted by 193 member states of the United Nations last year, covering a broad range of sustainable development issues including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

“The common vision of the national document on SDGs indicates the full participation of civil society as one of the key objectives to renew the commitment to sustainable development and ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for the planet and the present and future generations,” Ayyazi stressed. The Health Ministry set up the special ‘social office’ to encourage people to participate at various levels to advance the “Health for All” slogan.

Underlining that addressing social indicators affecting health will be on the agenda of all executive bodies, he said influencing people in everyday life choices is possible only through institutionalizing a culture of healthy living.

“Equitable distribution of wealth is an important indicator in changing people’s life choices.”

Health is one of the key goals of the 17 SDGs since ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of all at all ages is essential to sustainable development.

Although all 17 SDGs affect health in one way or another, Goal 3 aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases, and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services.

Achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all is another target set by Goal 3.

“Provision of comprehensive national health coverage should be undertaken jointly by state and private organizations,” Ayyazi said.

The targets also call for strengthening the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

  Road Accidents and Pollution

Goal 3 also envisages halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.

“The number of premature fatalities from road accidents in Iran has dropped to 16,500 a year (2016) from around 28,000 until 2014.

“That shows the significance and effect of inter-sector cooperation in securing health objectives.”

All countries, including Iran have also pledged to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.

“Studies show that people’s health is affected by 5% due to genetic factors, 20% by doctors, 25% by behavioral factors and 55% by environmental factors,” the official maintained. Paying attention to the last factor will bring about momentous changes in the health trends.

Noting that seven million people worldwide lose their lives due to complications resulting from air pollution, Health Ministry spokesperson Iraj Harirchi said 88% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries, IRNA reported.

“Particles and pollutants threaten the lives of 38 million Iranians annually,” he said, underscoring the heavy economic burden pollution imposes on the treasury. The Health Ministry and insurance companies have been called upon to shoulder a bigger part of the burden.

Density of hazardous particles in cities such as Tehran, Karaj, Mashhad, and Arak are reportedly much higher than the permissible limit.

  Figures at Odds

Khosrow Sadeqniat, head of the Work and Environment Health Center affiliated to the Health Ministry, said there has been a year-on-year reduction in the number of cardiovascular and respiratory deaths from air pollution in Tehran since 2014, citing reports by the Tehran Air Quality Control Company.

In September, the World Bank reported that deaths from air pollution in Iran had increased to 21,000 in 2013 from 17,000 over the previous two decades. It estimated the funds spent on curbing air pollution and its ensuing burden costs around 2%-3% of the national GDP.

Over the past two years, the worsening health conditions pushed national bodies to step up action and take positive steps. The Health Ministry launched a significant scheme in 2015 and accordingly the Environmental Health Compliance Appendix mandated all national and large-scale projects to be evaluated as per health protocols before being implemented, Sadeqniat said.

“More clean-air days were registered in Tehran last year, after removing lead from locally produced fuels, distributing Euro 4 gasoline across fuel stations, and replacing carbureted engines with fuel injected models.”

With more than 450 water treatment facilities in large and small cities across the country, the ministry is monitoring water sanitation closely. Segregation, management, and disinfecting of infectious or hazardous waste are also done at 80% of the hospitals.

  Reducing NCDs

One of the most important areas highlighted by SDG 5 is curbing non-communicable diseases whose burden is heaviest in low and middle income countries including Iran.

“Reducing by one-third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment and promoting mental health and well-being is underlined by the UN targets, and we aim to improve the state of NCD prevalence in the country through inter-sector collaborations among all competent bodies,” the social deputy noted.

This year’s edition of the conference, held October 22-24 at Tehran’s Milad Tower, coincided with the 1st international round of the congress hosting a number of keynote speakers from Germany, Switzerland, France, South Africa, and England as well as WHO representatives for the Middle East and North Africa region.

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