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.