Publication date: 
January 14, 2014

To tackle the biggest population health challenges, people from different agencies, companies, and nonprofits need to come together.

A collaborative approach figured prominently in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) National Strategy and Action Plan for Environmental Healthdesigned to address the burden of disease from air pollution and other environmental causes.

“No single agency acting alone can have the impact necessary to effect the change we need,” wrote Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, to introduce the strategy in 2010.

The World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease studies about the impact of environmental risk factors on premature death and disability helped inspire the national plan led by Al Mansouri. Contributors included public and private entities from the UAE and United States-based research and academic institutions.

The strategy outlined environmental health threats such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, exposure to pollutants on the job, climate change, water pollution, and contamination of produce and seafood as a result of pollution.

It also set measurable targets for reducing people’s exposure to environmental risk factors. For tobacco smoking, for example, the plan proposed that by 2014 the country would “control and eventually ban smoking of all tobacco products in all public buildings, including restaurants, cafes, and office buildings.”

For outdoor air pollution, the plan proposed that particulate matter pollution not exceed standards set by the government by 2030. In addition, the plan established an Environmental Health and Safety Management System to monitor indoor and outdoor air emissions and other relevant health data.

“This national strategy and action plan is intended to provide a focal point for the efforts of many national level, emirate-level, and municipal agencies in the UAE toward the important objective of reducing the environmental burden of disease,” Al Mansouri wrote. “Cooperation among the entities named as stakeholders in this document will be key to achieving this objective.”