siniša varga - HAZU, okoliš i zdravlje.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ mm

The seventh meeting of the European Environment and Health Ministerial Board (EHMB), taking place in Zagreb on Thursday, focuses on the approach European countries must take in the protection of the environment and health in the future.

The meeting, opened by Croatian Health Minister Sinisa Varga, is attended by representatives of Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Portugal, the Russian Federation and Croatia, as well as representatives of UN agencies, the World Health Organisation and civil society. The objective is to determine priorities in the environmental and health protection sector ahead of the 6th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, scheduled for 2017.

Minister Varga said Croatia is very active in the EHMB which is expected to adopt recommendations for the Ministerial Conference at which 53 WHO member states from Europe will adopt new principles on the impact of the environment on health.

"We are lucky because the lifestyle in Croatia has not led to the pollution of the environment, our drinking water resources are well preserved, our coast and rivers are clean, and we have a sanitation system. This isn't the case in some other countries and one third of EU member states do not have tap water safe to drink," he added.

The head of the WHO office in Croatia, Antoinette Kaic Rak, said the impact of the environment on health is a topical issue today and represents a great challenge to the sustainability of life in cities.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health was held in Parma, Italy in 2010 when 53 governments, members of the WHO Europe, adopted a declaration pledging to reduce the adverse health impact of environmental threats in the next decade.

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