In 2011, the International Federation of Environmental Health declared September 26 as World Environmental Health Day (WEHD). The observance aims to underscore the influence of environmental risks and issues on the health of people.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made a similar declaration in 2018 through Presidential Proclamation No. 595. The Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health (IACEH) was mandated to promote the celebration of World Environmental Health Day in the Philippines.

This year’s celebration featured the pledge of support by key stakeholders, awarding ceremonies for various environmental health initiatives — Certificates of Water Safety Plan Acceptance to 67 local water districts by the DOH; for 6 participating communities in the “Adopt-an-Estero Program” by DENR; ‘World Environmental Health Day’ logo contest winner by DENR — and the conferment of the UNEP National Ambassador for the Environment. 

A Research and Donor Engagement Forum on Health, Climate Change and Environment was also held where international experts shared their expertise on climate change, food security, and health impact, including global initiatives that address climate change.

“Environmental health is a shared responsibility of everyone,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire. “This is a call for action that all of us, all our agencies, ourselves, must heed towards a sound environment, healthy citizenry, and sustainable communities.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), were among the key development partners supporting the event.

Acting WHO Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe added that “with the strategic partnership between the DENR, DOH, UNEP, WHO, and other partners, we can make a difference in improving the quality of the environment and consequently reducing the cases of environment-related diseases. As we celebrate the World Environmental Health Day, let’s keep in mind that environments should improve and not harm our health.” 

Related to the celebration, the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment, currently being chaired by the Philippines held the Tenth High-Level Officials’ Meeting (HLOM).  Participants from around 30 countries including development partners and other international observers came together to underscore the importance of health and environment.