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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.80 n.10 Genebra Oct. 2002

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0042-96862002001000024 

Million-kronor prize will help launch Healthy Environments for Children initiative

At the World Summit for Sustainable Development, WHO's Director-General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, announced a new initiative called Healthy Environments for Children. Diplomats and heads of UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations expressed strong support for the initiative at a reception in Johannesburg on 1 September. Dr Brundtland said: "This global alliance will build on our extensive experience with multi-partner initiatives such as the polio eradication drive, Roll Back Malaria, Stop TB, and the Tobacco-Free Initiative. We are committed to driving it forward speedily. Immediately after the World Summit, we will firm up plans so that we can have activities up and running within six months, and agree on measurable targets with our alliance partners."

At the same gathering, Dr Brundtland received the Swedish City of Göteborg's International Environment Prize for 2002, for her "her visionary and innovative work during the 80s, which laid the foundation for all the pioneering work around Agenda 21." The prize is worth 1 million kronors — about US$ 100 000. Dr Brundtland said she would donate the money to the new initiative, "to get the work off to a flying start".

Unhealthy environments were estimated by the World Health Report 2000 to contribute to the deaths of 4.7 million children of under five years old. Anarchic industrialization, explosive urban expansion, lack of pollution control, unregulated waste-dumping, unsustainable consumption of natural resources, and unsafe use of chemicals are among the chief dangers. The most common causes of childhood death that result are respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malaria, and accidents. The new initiative is aimed at forming an alliance of donor and practitioner organizations to tackle problems of water and sanitation, air pollution, disease vectors, chemicals (especially pesticides and lead), and injuries.