The major direct damages caused to health is estimated to be $2-4 billion annually by 2030: Atul Bagai, Head India Country Office, UN Environment India
The World Health Day is symbolic to inculcate health awareness across the globe. Unlike every year, the focus this year 2021 is somewhat different i.e., ‘to ensure equitable access to healthcare facilities around the globe due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In such trying times to ensure access to health for all, HEAL Health organised ‘Paryavaran Bachao, Swasthya Badhao (Save Environment, Improve Health)’ e-Summit on International Health Day: ‘Reconciling Environmental Challenges with Healthcare’ in association with ELDF and Sami Sabinsa Group, knowledge partner HEAL Foundation and strategic partner BSLA.
Shri Jai Pratap Singh, Honourable Health Minister Govt of Uttar Pradesh and Dr Harsh Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH were chief guest and special guest respectively at Episode-16 of HEAL-Thy Samvaad series.
Speaking at the webinar, Guest of honour Atul Bagai, Head India Country Office, UN Environment India said, “Ramaswamy report talks about the misuse of natural resources causing 19 million premature deaths annually and the major direct damage caused to health is estimated to be $2-4 billion annually by 2030. The world at large is grappling with the Triple Planetary Crisis: the crisis of climate change, the pollution and waste, the crisis of nature, biodiversity and the natural ecosystems. Thus, making peace with nature is essential. The COVID-19 pandemic is also the cause of what we have done wrong with nature in the last fifty years. It is good to see that the Government of India has initiated a steering committee on environment.”
In the second session of the e-Summit, the experts came together to deliberate on the impact of Biodiversity Act on Healthcare R&D and commercialisation efforts in India. They unravelled so many in-things and the hurdles coming in the way.
“There is a close linkage of environmental degradation vis-à-vis the health. And the biomedical waste and its management and mismanagement is directly associated with our environment and eventually to our health. As far as biomedical waste management is concerned, it’s a very big initiative carried out by India to protect the health of the people who are involved in the collection of wastage. Now, the Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rule is in place, so its monitoring now turns easy. Likewise, water is also one of the major contributors of pollution, however, there is a dearth of water treatment mechanism in the wake of the arrival of several pesticides found in the sewage,” said Dr Ajay Achyutrao Deshpande, Member, Compliance Department, Asian Development Bank while addressing the webinar.
Deliberating on the impact of Biodiversity Act on Healthcare R&D and Commercialisation efforts in India during the second session of the webinar, Dr Arvind Saklani, Vice-President, Agri Biotechnology, Sami Sabinsa, said, “We are talking about the plants, biological resources, innovation and research. There are manufacturers who are using biological resources. Now the impact of the biodiversity act is seen as that most of the universities have shut their doors for Taxonomists. Likewise, there are pharmacy colleges that have shut the door for Pharmacognosists. He further said we need not create hurdles rather we should follow our honourable PM’s thought – Innovate, Research, Produce and Prosper.”
Guest of honour at the e-Summit Dr Chandrakant S Pandav, Global Public Expert, Former HoD Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, President ICCIDD and Padma Shri Awardee deliberated on the relevance on World Health Day saying, “There is a need of health and environmental equity at every sphere and it needs to be addressed urgently. The indiscriminate exploitation of nature has resulted in the form of COVID-19 pandemic. In a nutshell, health and environmental equity should be maintained.”
Speaking on the environmental impact on health during the webinar, Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, General of Forests & Special Secretary, Govt. of India, said, “60 per cent of human infections are of animal versions. The pathogens not only affect other organisms but also humans. Of all the animals, domestic animals are larger carriers of pathogens. Just COVID-19 is a suspected case of transmission from wild animals where a lesser no of viruses come from. Poverty is one of the biggest factors of environmental degradation.”
While elaborating on the environmental degradation and the diseases it brings along during the webinar, Bharti Chaturvedi, Founder, Chintan Foundation said, “We talk about other diseases but not about the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is caused due to the direct impact of air pollution. It’s a silent killer, but we don’t pay heed to it. In urban India, we see the rising pollution, which is bringing unintended health disaster. The WHO has listed 50 most polluted cities in India.”
While moderating the session of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad episode-16, Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate Supreme Court of India, Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm said, “Addressing the issues related to the environment which impacts the health is very important, and this e-Summit is a step forward in this direction on the occasion of World Health Day. Air Pollution and its adverse impact on health especially Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and finding its solutions, spread of zoonotic diseases through illegal wildlife trade and its linkage with the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change and its impact on human health are the important issues need to be discussed at length.”
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