International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics
FIGO is pleased to see the development of a draft strategy aiming to provide a vision on how to respond to environmental health challenges until 2030.
Whether concerned with reproductive health, cancer, infertility, neonatal and childhood health we know that toxic exposures are implicated.
The human reproductive system is particularly sensitive to environmental exposures because of crucial window of ‘development’. Preconception and prenatal time periods are important. We hope that WHO will add reference to the link environmental exposures have on a number of key areas for women, including:
• Air pollution: FIGO identifies the strong link between Air Pollution and fertility, from altered production of sperm and eggs to epigenetic changes and birth defects. Air pollution is also known to have an impact upon prematurity
• Climate change: increasing frequency of climate disasters has long term consequences. Recently, Cyclone Idai directly impacted > 75,000 pregnant women throughout Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with 45,000 of these women due to give birth over the next six months
• Poor water and sanitation: exposure to dirty, stagnant water during pregnancy may lead to malaria, typhoid, dysentery, which can result in miscarriage, foetal death and maternal mortality
FIGO appreciates the mention of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Exposure to chemicals needs to be held to a safety standard intended to improve global health. Populations should not be exposed to chemicals until their safety is proven. We would like to see the following areas included:
• Mining - a serious contamination globally
• Pesticides - have a direct impact on health and should be identified in a category of their own
FIGO support WHO’s Strategic Objective 3, agreeing that the health sector needs to be equipped and empowered, with leadership and governance strengthened.
FIGO will use our experience and expertise to support WHO leadership in policies, evidence synthesis and advocacy.