2020 Children’s Environmental Health Session in the Global Health Forum
October 24, 2020
The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) opened the “Taiwan Global Health Forum 2020” on October 23, 2020. The “Children’s Environmental Health” session, organized by the Taiwan Health Promotion Administration and co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration, took place on October 24.
This is the third time that Taiwan and the United States have collaborated on a children’s environmental health meeting. This year’s conference session was specially organized for pediatricians and health care professionals. Due to the pandemic, officials, experts and scholars from Southeast Asian countries could not participate in person, but environmental and health officials from Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia were able to join the session online.
In his opening remarks, Minister Chen of the MOHW stated the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact globally, but the crisis has shown the world how Taiwan has employed rigorous epidemic prevention strategies, and is committed to sharing these techniques and experiences through international disease control networks. Taiwan successfully minimized the pandemic’s health and economic impacts, thanks to the combined efforts of experts, medical staff and citizens. This experience reminds us that both health and environmental protection are transboundary issues in a world growing ever smaller. We therefore seek to expand partnerships with experts worldwide to raise global awareness of children’s health and environmental issues.
Deputy Minister Tsai echoed the theme of this year’s forum on Innovation, Inclusion and Partnership for SDGs, and said that the Taiwan EPA has always followed the same beliefs and principles to apply innovative technologies and integrated legislation for the sake of promoting diversified solutions, improving air quality and enhancing public health.
Jane Nishida, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), began by praising Taiwan’s excellent epidemic prevention efforts and said that Taiwan has been equally successful in environmental protection. She quoted US Health Secretary Alex Azar, who during a recent visit to Taiwan said that “During these difficult times, the United States knows that we will always have a friend in Taiwan, and we will not shy away from telling the rest of world that they too can rely on Taiwan”. Ms. Nishida believes that by taking advantage of bilateral cooperation channels and the platform of the International Environmental Partnership (IEP), Taiwan and the U.S. can work together to advance awareness of and progress on children’s environmental health issues in the region.
The session included: a U.S. pediatrician sharing ‘A Pediatrician’s View of Environmental Exposures and Health Effects’; the Director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection of the USEPA speaking on ‘The Benefits of a National Office for Children’s Environmental Health Issues’; a U.S. health research expert presenting ‘Air Quality and Children’s Health Training’; and, a Taiwanese pediatrician talking about ‘Air Pollution and Allergic Diseases in Children’. Through the exchange of views and sharing of experiences, the participants started to learn across borders and fields, and jointly promoted the development of a healthy environment for children in the Asia Pacific region.