New WHO scorecards on health and environment for more than 60 countries provide an illustrated snapshot of where countries stand on managing six major environmental threats to health: air pollution, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), climate change,
exposure to chemicals, radiation, and occupational health.
Comparing to a healthy baseline in each category, the scorecards highlight the extent of the most urgent problems in that country in each area; the health impacts of falling short of those targets, and the policies that are, or should be, in place to
Their ultimate aim is to help countries and national policy makers identify priorities and areas in great need of attention and resources.
The scorecards have been developed as part of a larger package of materials to strengthen concrete action on health and environment, including the extensive Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on Health and Environment which provides concrete measure that can be implemented in various areas.
“If a policy maker has identified, as highlighted in the scorecards, a high disease burden due to air pollution in their country, for example, they can then turn to the Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on health and environment and other
support WHO is offering for concrete practical steps,” said Dr Annette Prüss-Ustün, Unit Head, Policies and Interventions for Health & Environment, Department of Environmental, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization.
“The information provides a snapshot on where countries stand, without needing to consult numerous additional data sources.”
The term “scorecards
The term “scorecard” refers to the reporting of a status. Country values, such as the concentration of fine particulate air pollution, or the percentage of the population who has access to safe drinking water, can also be compared to baseline values which highlight the potential health gains that can be made. The accompanying reading guide provides more details.
The scorecards will be frequently updated, enabling countries to track their progress — but also to compare their performance with other countries in the same region.
“The scorecards are intended to provide individual governments with summary information to view their own health and environment status at one glance,” added Prüss-Ustün. “It also provides a support for measuring progress in
a way that is easy to communicate. The scorecards help with the measurement and points to areas requiring urgent action.”
Accompanying analysis beyond the Scorecard
The Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on Health and Environment provides more than 500 practical actions from over 400 reports and guidelines for improving health by creating healthier environments.
In the reading guide, each section of the scorecard, corresponding to the six areas of environmental determinants of health featured, is linked to the relevant chapters of this Compendium.
Further material with more general information on health and environment and the major environmental risks is also available, such as the brochure “Healthy environments for healthier populations: Why do they matter, and what can they do?”.
The scorecards contain data that has already been made available to countries, and do not include new data. They summarize and present already-published data in a user-friendly overview, particularly for busy policy makers and other relevant stakeholders.
Health and Environment Scorecards will be developed for additional countries soon.