Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Consultation on “Healthy Environment Programme in India”

Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, USA visited New Delhi on 2-3 April 2007. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and WHO India jointly organized a Consultation on “Healthy Environment Programme in India” on 2 April 2007. The meeting was chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Dr S J Habayeb, WHO Representative to India, introduced the basic objective of the consultation and narrated the three ongoing joint collaborations between WHO and US-EPA, namely Water Safety Plan, and the risks of Lindane and Mercury. Welcoming the participants, Naresh Dayal, Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, highlighted the needs of healthy environment with special reference to drinking water quality monitoring. He also suggested regulated use of water and impact of climate change on the water balance. Johnson, in his introductory remark, highlighted various activities being carried out by US-EPA in USA for a “Healthy Community Programme”. He mentioned that around 25% of the disease burden is due to environment factors. He also highlighted the Indo-USA joint activities in the field of environment, benefiting the public health programmes.

Ms. Shantha Sheela Nair, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water, explained the rural water and sanitation scenario in the country. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. B Sengupta, Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board on “Environmental concerns and Waste Management” in the country. The salient features of “Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission” and its impact on the urban poor were presented by Dr. P K Mohanty, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation. The various ongoing joint activities of ICMR with US-EPA, with special reference to occupational health, were explained by Prof. N K Ganguly, DG, ICMR. This was followed by thought provoking discussions on healthy environment issues being faced by the country.

Finally, the ‘Guidance Manual for Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment’ was jointly launched by Stephen L Johnson and Naresh Dayal. The Manual, developed by NEERI, Nagpur and NICD, New Delhi, is a joint effort of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Ministry of Environment and Forests; Central Pollution Control Board; Department of Drinking Water; Ministry of Urban Development; Ministry of Water Resources; WHO, Country Office for India; and US-EPA. The Manual will be released for dissemination in May 2007.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Shiv Lal, Additional DG & Director, NICD.

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