Air pollution in the Asia-Pacific region

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Air pollution, which is transboundary in nature, also contributes to regional level issues such as acid deposition and global level issues such as climate change.

To strengthen national capacities to address air pollution in Asia-Pacific countries, the Government of Japan is supporting a four-year project through UN Environment entitled Institutional Measures and Technical Assistance to Address Air Pollution in Asia Pacific.

The project effectively supports both the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) and the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET) over the period January 2015 through July 2019.

The project aims to support coordination and knowledge sharing among the region’s various ongoing clean air initiatives, inform existing air pollution networks on policy makers on the science-policy linkages on air pollution, and train national air quality managers and promote bi-lateral cooperation.

WE International’s Managing Director, Terrence Thompson, supported UN Environment in conducting the mid-term review of the project. The review had two primary purposes: (i) to provide evidence to meet accountability requirements; and (ii) to promote operational improvement, learning and knowledge sharing through results and lessons learned among UN Environment, EANET and APCAP.

The review found that the project was generally well designed and implemented but there was a need to improve risk management strategies and to develop strategies to sustain coordination, knowledge sharing, and capacity building beyond the life of the four-year project.

Recommendations were made to link the project to high-level global and regional policy frameworks and to establish sustainable financing mechanisms that could convert the fixed term project into a sustainable program.

For more information, contact Mr. Terrence Thompson: terrence@weinternational.asia

Safe Drinking-Water in Thailand

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Thailand has a long history of rigorous control and surveillance of drinking-water quality especially in its major towns and cities.

Despite access to improved sources of drinking-water being estimated at 98 percent nationwide, the Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that acute diarrhea still remains a crucial public health problem in the country.

To address this problem, WE International supported the MoPH and WHO in a joint review of drinking-water safety programs and practices.

The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and Provincial Waterworks Authority participated actively. The exercise was conducted over an extended period and consisted of a desk-top review of safe-water policies and programs among the principal water sector stakeholders, stakeholder interviews focusing on their capacity for safe-water management and the status of water safety plans (WSP’s) in Thailand’s principal water supply systems, and site visits to selected systems to review the actual implementation of WSP policies and programs.

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The findings of a separate WHO-supported external audit of MWA’s water safety program were also incorporated into the review. The joint review gave high marks to MWA and PWA for their safe drinking-water management practices while making important recommendations for improvements to reduce risk of waterborne disease.

The joint review found that the majority of Thai consumers are served by small systems operated by local government bodies or community managed systems and that surveillance and control of drinking-water quality is most in need of strengthening in such systems.

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It recommended that MoPH focus its efforts on small water systems. The Ministry has already taken a number of initiatives to improve drinking-water quality, including the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on Water Quality Management for Local Water Supplies, an Environmental Health Accreditation (EHA) Program, and others.

The SOP already contains some elements of WSP concepts. The joint review recommended that DOH revise the SOP with a view towards bringing it more in line with WSP practices and enforcing its application through the EHA program.

Mercury and Health in Malaysia

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WE International was called upon to assist Malaysia’s Ministry of Health in strengthening its mercury control program. The legally binding Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force in 2017.

Countries that are party to the Convention are bound to implement a range of measures to significantly reduce human exposure to mercury which is highly toxic to humans and harmful to the environment even at very low concentrations.

malaysia2.jpgWE International supported Malaysia’s MOH in taking stock of its current mercury control measures across many programs: medical devices, hospital services, dentistry, pharmaceutical services, food safety, and environmental health including waste management, medical research and health education.

WE International’s analysis showed how many of the MOH’s existing measures already provide strong protection of human health and the environment.

Actions needed to strengthen MOH compliance with the Minamata Convention were identified and recommended.

The Ministry is now in the process of implementing the recommendations in order to achieve a higher level of health and environment protection. (For more information, contact WE International’s Managing Director, Terrence Thompson: terrence@weinternational.asia.)

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