Air quality and health resolution adopted at the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly

A landmark resolution on air quality and health has been adopted at the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly on 26 May 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Resolution, "Health and the environment: addressing the health impact of air pollution",  was carried forward by the European delegations of France, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine along with  Chile, Colombia, Panama, United States of America, Uruguay and Zambia.

The proposal was developed in consideration that air pollution is the largest single environmental risk and a leading cause of disease and death globally. It is a risk factor for ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and cancer. Air pollution's negative effect on health brings an enormous economic burden. A new WHO report released 28 April 2015 reveals that in the WHO European Region alone a staggering US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600 000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in 2010.

Among the actions outlined in the adopted Resolution, Member States are urged to:

  • Develop policy dialogue, partnerships, and strengthen multisectoral cooperation at national, regional and international levels, taking into account WHO guidelines;
  • Raise awareness in the public and among stakeholders of the impacts of air pollution on health and opportunities to reduce or avoid exposure, and encourage and promote such measures
  • Facilitate relevant research;
  • Collect and utilize data relevant for health risk assessment and surveillance of illnesses related to air pollution;
  • Take effective steps to address and minimize air pollution from health care facilities, and identify actions by the health sector to reduce health inequities related to air pollution;
  • Meet the commitments made at the 2011 UN High level meeting on non-communicable diseases.

WHO will report to the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly on the implementation of this resolution and its progress in mitigating the health effects of air pollution, and other challenges to air quality, and to propose a road map for an enhanced global response to the adverse health effects of air pollution.