European Commission

European Commission

European Commission
Health and Consumer Policy

Personally Speaking

Developing healthy environments for all our citizens - a major challenge

Last Friday I went to Parma in Italy to participate in the WHO Environment and Health Conference. I attach great importance to this environment and health process which brought together so many Ministers, officials and civil society to Parma. Let me tell you why.

Environmental factors can have a significant effect on citizen's health and the development of diseases. And vulnerable groups, such as children and socially disadvantaged people, can be particularly affected by such factors. This is why developing healthy environments for all our citizens must be at the heart of all our policies. We need to act to reverse the negative impact of the environment on citizens' health.

I fully welcome the key priorities agreed at this conference in the areas of climate change and socioeconomic and gender inequalities. I am particularly pleased that the Conference Declaration agreed in Parma focuses on the most vulnerable groups in society. I believe the Declaration will guide us in our efforts to progress on environment and health in Europe for the years to come. And the challenges to tackle are many. Let me give you just one example: the incidence of asthma and allergy is increasing in Europe. Some 80 million Europeans suffer from allergies; 30 million from asthma. One in every 5 children now suffers from a chronic respiratory condition. This means more suffering for those children, and more need for healthcare. We need to act.

At EU level, I will continue to tackle environment and health challenges through the Action Plan on environment and health. At global level the European Commission is fully committed to working with governments, civil society and international organisations, in particular the World Health Organization, to support the goals set out in the Parma Declaration.