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Policy Framework

The WHO and the European Union (EU) have developed a number of strategies and action plans to address environmental health issues. As part of the WHO-led European Environment and Health Process, which began in 1989, a UNECE Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE) was adopted by European Ministers at the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in 2004. The CEHAPE maintains that effective action for protecting children’s health should emphasize primary prevention, equity, poverty reduction and health promotion. It focuses on priority goals in the following four thematic areas: morbidity and mortality related to water and sanitation; accidents and injuries; outdoor and indoor pollution; and, chemicals and other hazardous agents.

EU Environmental policy has also given a high profile to environmental health. The link between environmental quality and human health is highlighted in the EU Sixth Environment Action Programme, and public health is one of the seven priorities in the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy of 2006. In 2003, the EU developed a European Environment and Health Strategy, This strategy was closely followed by the 2004 European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010, which aims at improving the EU environmental health information chain, filling the knowledge gap, reviewing policies and improving communication.

At a national level, Malta has also prepared a National Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP). Malta’s 1997 NEHAP is currently in the process of being updated, and the new NEHAP will ensure greater institutional commitment from across government, supported by an inter-ministerial committee on Environmental Health. The revised NEHAP focuses on the two CEHAPE priorities considered to be most relevant to Malta during a 2006 stakeholder consultation meeting: outdoor and indoor pollution, and accidents and injuries.