Statement on Health, Environment and Climate Change

For over 60 years, FIGO has collaborated with the world's top health bodies to work towards the improvement of women's health globally.

FIGO is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), and attending the 144th WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 - 30th January, 2019.

This week we shared our statement on the Director-General's report on the draft WHO global strategy on Health, Environment and Climate Change: the transformation needed to improve lives and well-being sustainably through healthy environments: 

FIGO applauds WHO for recognising that minimising environmental threats to human health and reproduction is a necessity if we are to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination, and the consequences of climate change, in order to progress towards the 2030 Agenda.

In the last 40 years, there has been a global increase in human exposure to a variety of potentially toxic chemicals in the environment. Whether we are concerned with reproductive health, cancer, infertility, neonatal and childhood health – all priority areas for FIGO – we know that toxic exposures are implicated.

The human reproductive system is particularly sensitive to exposures because of crucial window of ‘development’. Preconception and prenatal time periods are important. We are disappointed to not see any reference to the link environmental exposures have on prematurity and low birth weight, or any reference to risks of exposure affecting transgenerational changes.

At FIGO, we focus on prevention and maintaining health. We agree that the health sector needs to be equipped and strengthened to assume its obligations in shaping a healthy and sustainable future, and Environmental Health was a core theme throughout last year’s FIGO World Congress.

At FIGO we focus on 3 important areas: Education, Research and Advocacy.

  • Education: to reach clinicians, publications and to develop training programs that incorporate environmental awareness.
  • Research: compiling information regarding research and products.
  • Advocacy: to advocate for learning, to share the information in our hospitals, communities and with our ministers of health. And to demonstrate that the burden of proof of harm gives way to a proof of safety.

FIGO’s diverse membership, made up of 132 member societies, allows us a global reach.

FIGO hopes that we can use our experience and expertise, and unified commitment to addressing the associated risks of health, environment and climate change, and collaborate with the WHO to help deliver the three strategic priorities outlined in your Thirteenth General Programme of Work, 2019 – 2023, notably supporting leadership and policies and evidence synthesis and advocacy.


About FIGO

FIGO is a professional organisation that brings together obstetrical and gynecological associations from all over the world.

FIGO’s vision is that women of the world achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives, we lead on global programme activities, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

FIGO advocates on a global stage, especially in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pertaining to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and non-communicable diseases (SDG3). We also work to raise the status of women and enable their active participation to achieve their reproductive and sexual rights, including addressing FGM and gender based violence (SDG5).

We also provide education and training for our Member Societies and build capacities of those from low-resource countries through strengthening leadership, good practice and promotion of policy dialogues.

FIGO are in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO) and a consultative status with the United Nations (UN).