The United Nations Environment Programme held its first Scientific and technical Committee meeting on ChemObs Guidance “Integrated Guidance for Decision Making Tools (DMT) for the Sound Management of Chemicals in Africa” in Dakar, Senegal. 27-29 March 2018 

 African ChemObs Development of Integrated Guidance on  Decision-making tools

The expected improvements on timely decision-making for policy making and action to predict prevent and reduce chemicals risks on disease and associated risk factors to public health and environmental degradation are still unsatisfactory. 

This is due to incomplete information systems, fragmentation of surveillance activities, insufficient coordination among the various established systems, un–harmonized methodologies, obsolete surveillance tools and lack of standardized indicators. Even where data are available, its analysis to adequately inform decision making processes remains poor.  In circumstances where policy recommendations exist, there are challenges in the uptake and implementation of such recommendations. Furthermore, some vertical disease-specific surveillance systems continue to operate with varying case definitions as well as different data collection and analysis methodologies. The decentralization process in many countries results in the lack of adequate resources at the operational levels.

Today, the global health security has emerged as top priority on the international development agenda. In this regards management of chemicals incidents is a key components of the international health regulations (IHR, 2005). However, Member states lack adequate capacity for chemical management. For example, in 2014, about 38% of Member States had legislation and policies on chemical management. In addition, 32% had developed chemical events surveillance capacity, 50% had established reference laboratories for chemical detection, and only 25% had poison control centres. Illegal dumping of chemicals remains a prevalent issue in their management in Africa.Furthermore, chemical management is a cross-cutting theme in all the 17 SDGsFor instance, Chemicalsand waste are reflected explicitly in a number of goalsand targets, including health, water, cities and humansettlements, and responsible consumption and production.Moreover, they relate implicitly to the goals on poverty,agriculture, oceans, decent work and climate change,which cannot be achieved without sound management ofchemicals and waste. And while less pronounced, theircontribution is also important in areas such as educationand gender equality.Either as an input to or consequence of activities, soundmanagement of chemicals and waste can provide practicalsolutions to achieve sustainable development.

However, the complex and interlinked range of hazards and risks related to chemicals management and pollution requires the development of integrated policies that address health, environment and development goals coherently. Even within the health sector itself, disease surveillance and management programmes that share the same root causes and determinants have been disconnected from each other and managed separately. This has led to reduced impact of interventions and loss of efficiency. Current policies should be founded upon up-to-date data, indicators and knowledge fully accessible to decision makers, so that they can put in placeprograms to ensure the maintenance of environmental goods and services, which themselves underpin all aspects of human health and well-being. 

  Goal

The project aims at developing an integrated set of tools that can help to build the capacity necessary to set up an integrated surveillance and information management system of chemical of public health concerns.  This will enable participating African countries to establish evidence based policies, and make decisions on chemicals and pollution issues that take into account related disease burdens.  

 It addresses in particular, the necessary improvements to be made in the fields of awareness, knowledge, information management and communication on chemicals to support and provide an enabling framework for measures and actions to be taken.

 Objectives 

To develop and validate an integrated guidance of standardized tools and protocols for data collection, collation, analysis and interpretation that coordinate chemicals, pollution and health risks.  These tools can be used to undertake planning processes that can assist governments to prioritize interventions based on economic, health, and environmental performance indicators

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