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A meeting of health and environment ministers and scientific experts on the impact of environment on health in Africa this week is a welcome — but long overdue — development, according to an editorial in The Lancet.

Resource-poor countries suffer disproportionately in terms of the environment's impact on health. In the worst affected African countries more than a third of the disease burden has environmental causes.

The co-host of the meeting, the WHO's regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), has a real chance to set an agenda to guarantee gains for health, including a ministerial declaration and an action plan, says the editorial.

Political commitment for tried and tested interventions — such as access to safe drinking water — must be renewed. But the action plan should also include preparation strategies for new environmental challenges, such as the impact of climate change on health.

Achieving this will require better integration and coordination of the environment and health sectors across the continent.

Link to full article in The Lancet*

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