WHO and EPA sign five-year agreement to examine health impact of climate change

Over the next five years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) will focus on addressing the health impacts of climate change, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The agreement continues EPA-WHO collaboration on a wide range of specific and crosscutting environment and health issues, particularly air pollution, water and sanitation, children’s health, as well as health risks due to climate change.

The updated agreement also includes exciting new actions on crosscutting issues including infrastructure and environmental justice.

“I am proud to renew EPA’s commitment to working with the WHO to protect the public from the health risks of pollution,” said EPA administrator Michael Regan.

“The United States is committed to working closely with WHO, a global leader in protecting human health for all, with a particular focus on addressing the needs of vulnerable and underserved communities.  As we face new challenges from climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, this collaboration with the WHO has never been more critical.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the intimate links between humans and our environment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

“Addressing those links is essential to prevent diseases, including future pandemics, to promote health, drive the global recovery and reduce health risks associated with climate change, especially for the most vulnerable. WHO looks forward to continuing its longstanding collaboration with US EPA, and to tapping EPA’s expertise to advance our mission to support countries in meeting the challenges of environmental health.”

In this MOU, EPA and WHO have established new areas of cooperation, including addressing the disproportionate impacts of environmental challenges on underserved and vulnerable communities.

WHO also overseas global coordination efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the EPA is also contributing to COVID-19 response with efforts to register disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 and researching into antimicrobial products and studies of ways to disinfect personal protective equipment so that it could be reused.

The EPA has also worked to early warning systems by monitoring wastewater for the presence of SARS-Cov-2. The two agencies stressed they will continue to advance science to respond to the current pandemic and be better prepared for all biothreats in the future.

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