At the meeting of the European Environment and Health Task Force (EHTF) of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), Biljana Filipović Đušić, Assistant Minister for international cooperation at the Serbian Ministry of environmental protection, has become a member of the EHTF Bureau, the task force’s managing body, along with seven other representatives of European countries.
The Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection said that “this position represents an honor for Serbia and the line ministry, as well as a tremendous incentive in the future international and national activities to create policies and initiatives referring to all areas of environment and health”.
Biljana Filipović Đušić was also elected to co-chair the European Environment and Health Process (EHP), as the first-ever Serbian representative.
“Appointment to the EHTF Bureau, and the EHP co-chairing position I see not only as a support to Serbia in the process closely linked to the European integration but also as an incentive for further improvements in the field of environment, with the financial and expert support of the United Nations and representatives of European countries”, Biljana Filipović Đušić told Balkan Green Energy News.
Apart from Biljana Filipović Đušić, the meeting was also attended by Ivan Karić, state secretary at the ministry. The ministry’s representatives presented examples of the good practice and plans for future national activities to reduce the negative effects of environment-related health factors.
EHP with new institutional framework
The European Environment and Health Process, overseen by the WHO/Europe, for 28 years is a unique European process that equally unites health and environmental ministries in 53 European Member States and has been launched to eliminate the most significant environment-related health risks.
Progress towards this goal took place through a series of ministerial conferences organized every five years, and the last, sixth, was held in June 2017 in Ostrava, where the Declaration from Ostrava was adopted.
“At this conference, Serbia, with the governments of other countries, agreed on the future of EHP through a new institutional framework. Instead of the former Ministerial Committee, a Bureau of the EHP was established, which will manage the entire process and provide the highest level of political support, as well as coordination and cooperation at the international, regional and national level between the member states, “explains Filipović Đušić.
Around 5,400 people die annually due to air pollution
Ministry of Environmental Protection along with the Ministry of Health and other partner institutions, very actively participates in EHP, conducts projects related to rural water supply, chemicals management, improvement of sanitary and hygienic conditions in schools, equal access to water and sanitation, adaptation to climate change, and providing a good example to other countries of the region.
“Having in mind the alarming data from the WHO survey conducted in Serbia, that 5,400 people die annually prematurely due to air pollution, that only 8% of wastewater is treated, that the consequences of climate change are obvious, and environmental problems have incomprehensible effects for the health of the people, the Serbian government will work on the adoption of a national portfolio for action in the field of environment and health, through which it will define national priorities for the next two-year period in order to have concrete effects,” Filipović Đušić noted.