KIGALI - Academics from various countries yesterday joined students of Kigali Health Institute (KHI) in a two-day workshop to discuss the promotion environmental health as a means to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development.
The workshop that was funded by the British Council also reflects the perceived need for change and action to improve access to health in the context of environmental, social interdependency and economic sustainability.
“Environmental health promotion and sustainable development are part of a much larger process and a web of complex global issues that need to be addressed if we are to save lives in the years ahead,” KHI Rector, Desire
Ndushabandi , said while officially opening the workshop.
He cautioned that environmental hazards are responsible for a quarter of the total burden of disease worldwide and account for over 30% in the East African region.
“It is important to recognize that the well-being of the local community is affected by policies, globalisation, economy and the environment and it’s not yet time to rejoice since there are still many issues that need our attention.”
Professor George Karani, a lecturer at the University of Cardiff in the UK, explained that positive environmental transformation is a slow process that does not give a quick and direct impact.
“Global health partnership is extremely important in order to have an increased impact of these programmes,” he said.
Most students who talked to The New Times expressed optimism that the social and economic well-being of the population would be brighter if environmental health is to be given the priority it deserves.
According to Morris Tayebwa, an environmental health student at Makerere University, the world’s dream target of having sustainable development can be achieved if there is full collaboration between the health sector and other sectors in governments.