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WHO chief visits Kenya to deepen co-operation in health sector

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday kicked off a two-day tour in Kenya to deepen cooperation with the East African nation in health sector.

Speaking to reporters in Kenyan capital Nairobi, Ghebreyesus said the global health agency will strengthen partnership with Kenya to attain ambitious targets like universal health coverage.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organization | Coastweek   "The purpose of my visit is to discuss progress Kenya has made in health sector and how we can strengthen our cooperation," he said.

The WHO chief had earlier held discussion with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu to discuss strategic areas of partnership aimed at revitalizing health care services in the country.

During his two day visit to Kenya, Ghebreyesus will also meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and reaffirm the commitment by multilateral agencies to help the country achieve health-related sustainable development goals.

The WHO boss is also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Nairobi-headquartered UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that will focus on collaborative efforts between the two agencies in areas of health and environment.

The pact will specifically focus on implementation of the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA3) resolutions on air pollution, health and environment, chemicals, water and sanitation as part of the wider health, environment and climate change coalition.

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organization (WHO) addresses the press in Nairobi. He is expected to sign a Memorandum of Under-standing with United Nations Environment Programme on matters of health and environment. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO

Ghebreyesus will also visit a public hospital in Kiambu County on the outskirts of Nairobi to assess the capacity of Kenya’s health infrastructure to deal with the rising disease burden.

Ghebreyesus, also former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, said the international community will rally behind Kenyatta’s core agenda in his second term that include food security and universal health coverage.

"A good opportunity has opened for us to contribute to one of the four pillars outlined by President Kenyatta such as food security, housing, employment and universal health coverage," said Ghebreyesus.

"Our priority is to contribute to health and well being of Kenyans," he added.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu said a partnership with WHO will help revitalize Kenya’s health system in the light of devolution.


UN agencies step up efforts against environmental health risks

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed a new, wide-ranging collaboration on Wednesday to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year.

The two UN agencies inked a deal in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday to step up joint actions to combat air pollution, climate change and antimicrobial resistance, as well as improve coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues.

It represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years.

The two agencies will develop a joint work program and hold an annual high-level meeting to evaluate progress and make recommendations for continued collaboration.

The new collaboration creates a more systematic framework for joint research, development of tools and guidance, capacity building, monitoring of UN Sustainable Development Goals, global and regional partnerships, and support to regional health and environment fora.

"There is an urgent need for our two agencies to work more closely together to address the critical threats to environmental sustainability and climate—which are the foundations for life on this planet.

"This new agreement recognizes that sober reality," said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim.

"Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in.

"Together, air, water and chemical hazards kill more than 12.6 million people a year.

"This must not continue," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Most of these deaths occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America where environmental pollution takes its biggest health toll."

Last month, under the overarching topic "Towards a Pollution-Free Planet", the UN Environment Assembly convened environment ministers worldwide in adopting a resolution on Environment and Health, calling for expanded partnerships with relevant UN agencies and partners, and for an implementation plan to tackle pollution.


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