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Environmental Health Overview

Environment, Health and Poverty

One of the World Bank’s objectives in the Environment Strategy is to improve the quality of life in our client countries. A sub-objective within this is to protect people’s health from environmental risks and pollution to reduce the disease burden. Particular emphasis is given in the strategy to reduction of:

  • child mortality,
  • respiratory diseases,
  • blood lead levels,
  • deaths due to malaria, and
  • exposure to toxic substances.

Typically, it is the poor and particularly children under the age of five years that are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation. In this regard, issues relating to environmental health links in closely several Millennium Development Goals (MDG) -- not only with MDG seven, target nine, on ensuring environmental sustainability, but also MDG numbers four, five, and six that are linked to child mortality, maternal health, and combating vector-borne diseases.

Environmental Health Risks

Risks can be grouped into two broad categories.

1. Traditional hazards related to poverty and lack of development affect developing countries and poor people most. These include:

2. Modern hazards, caused by development that lacks environmental safeguards prevail in industrialized countries, such as

Last updated: 2010-06-16

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