HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS OF THE AMERICAS (HEMA) To Meet to
Address Urgent Public Health-Environmental degradation links
2005, Washington/ Buenos Aires
Dr. Ginés González García, Minister of Health and Environment of Argentina
will host his health and environmental colleagues from the 34 countries of
the Americas, at a meeting in Mar del Plata on June 16-17.
ministerial and senior officials meeting will review the state of health and
environment linkages in the hemisphere, and adopt a formal plan of work in
order to improve coordination between human health and environmental
officials within countries, as well as cement cooperation at the
international level between countries.
will be attended by ministers and senior representatives from all countries
of the Inter-American system, as well as the Executive Director of the
United Nations Environment Programme, Dr. Klaus Töpfer, the Director-General
of the World Health Organization, Dr. LEE Jong-wook, and the Director of the
Pan-American Health Organization, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, and the Director
of the Office for Sustainable Development and Environment of the
Organization of American States, Dr. Scott Vaughan. In addition,
senior officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
World Health Organization, and officials from guest countries, such as
Japan’s Senior Vice Minister of Environment, Hiroshi Takano, will also be
attending this meeting A final list of participating
ministers and senior health and environment officials will be available
Health and Environment ministers, or representative, from the 34
countries of the Americas.
Special Meeting of Health and Environment Ministers of the
Mar del Plata, Argentina
16-17 June 2005
For more information, please
contact Edmundo Ferretti, Press Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
at 011 54 9 11 4407-3352 or 011 54 223 451-9081/86. You can also
contact Scott Vaughan, Director of the OAS Department of Sustainable
at 202-458-6248 and/or James Kiernan (email@example.com)
at 202-458-6848. Agenda
objective of the ministerial meeting is to adopt a formal plan of action to
address the growing impacts of environmental-health linkages. Accelerating
rates of environmental degradation – including increased rates and differing
sources of pollution, the long-term health impacts of climate change, and
the increase of pesticides and toxic chemicals and wastes – pose new
management challenges which require coordinated action at the national as
well as regional levels.
ministerial meeting will adopt a plan of action in three areas:
integrated water resources and solid waste management, and
sound management of chemicals.
the Meeting of Health and Environment Ministers of the Americas (HEMA)
Take stock of the trajectory of environmental health conditions on the
HEMA Declaration and Action Plan with fixed priority actions for the
immediate future and a proposal for Heads of State to be raised at the
Summit of the Americas.
practical ways in which the adopted plan supports the Millennium Development
The meeting will be
hosted by the Minister of Health and Environment of Argentina, Dr. Ginés
González García, and will be attended by ministers and/or senior level
officials for the 34 countries of the Americas. The initiative and its
follow-up implementation is supported by three international organizations,
the OAS’ Department of Sustainable Development (water-related
issues), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO - children’s
environmental health), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP
of State and Government met at the Third Summit of the Americas (Québec,
2001), and authorized a joint meeting of the health and environment
authorities, held in Ottawa in March, 2002. This initiative is acknowledged
in the Declaration of Nuevo León at the Special Summit of Heads of State and
Government of the Americas (2004): “We
believe that ensuring environmental health for our people is an investment
for long-term well-being and prosperity. We are encouraged by the new
alliance between our Ministers of Health and Environment in the Americas and
we instruct them to develop a cooperation agenda to prevent and minimize the
negative impacts to the environment and human health.”
Under this mandate, between June 16 and 17, the state of affairs concerning
the key health and environmental issues identified by the ministers in 2002
will be reviewed; focus will be made on the specific goals, objectives and
commitments in priority areas. These ministerial goals will be related to
the Millennium Development Goals, in order to identify how to contribute to
the achievement of these Goals through health and environmental integrated
KEY HEMA PRIORITY
resources and solid waste management
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), at least
300 million people are sick
or threatened by water borne diseases (cholera, typhoid fever,
than 40% of the rural
population in the LAC region still lack adequate sanitation.
Development of water supply
in the region has been much slower than expected and even
declined in several countries.
economic costs of environmental health are staggering, increasing
and causing measurable economic and developmental costs. For
example, an increase in water
and sanitation infrastructure and services by $11 billion per
year above current expenditures would result
directly in economic benefits
in excess of $84 billion per
The main economic benefit identified is a
global decline in diarrheal
disease by 10 percent.
Solid waste produced per capita
has doubled over the past 30 years in the LAC region.
Almost all countries in the LAC
region lack physical infrastructure to control solid waste.
management of chemicals
are significantly exposed to pesticides every day, either directly
in farm and garden use or in residues in water, air and food.
From 1990 to 2002
there was an increase of 62%
of total chemical fertilizer consumption in the
As much as 85 to
90 percent of pesticides
applied to agriculture never reach their targets, but instead
disperse into the air, soil and water, and into the bodies of
pesticide use has almost
tripled in the last 20 years.
Every year almost 11 million
children in all developing countries die before the age of five,
most from causes that are readily preventable in developed
countries, including acute respiratory infections (19%), diarrhea
(17%), and malaria (8%), all related to environmental conditions.
Every year 2.2 million
children in the world under
age five die from diarrhea – closely linked to inadequate access
to safe water and sanitation.
particularly susceptible to the effects of pesticides
on their immune systems (birth defects, cancer and tumors,
neurodevelopmental retardation, endocrine problems).