WEH day has been celebrated across the world by EH practitioners and communities every year since the inaugural event in Sydney in 1988. This year the focus was on emergent EH risks to environmental health.
Professor Tim Lang talked on the need to reconstruct the vision for public health since whilst many health indicators are improving (life expectancy, neonatal deaths, etc) many of the indicators for wider world health are declining: water stress, biodiversity loss, rise of non-communicable diseases, climate change. This is also exacerbated by cultural changes around food, for example ultra processed foods and consumption for example of throw away clothes when cotton is the biggest user of water world wide. You can read more about Tim’s views in his paper with Geof Rayner (http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e5466) and in their joint book Ecological Public Health available from Earthscan/Routledge.
Janet Russell , CIEH president spoke about international dimensions of EH and the International Federation of Environmental Health declaration on health equity http://www.ifeh.org/docs/ifeh_policies/policy10.pdf and drew attention to the first student led conference in Sept 2015 in Portugal.
Dr Jolyon Medlock, Head of Medical Entomology and Zoonoses Ecology (PHE) gave a fairly stark talk on new threats to UK health from exotic mosquitoes and tick borne illnesses. He raised some good points about policy affecting prevalence. PHE have created tick and mosquito maps to gain understanding of numbers, environments and geology. What was interesting is that there can be a conflict in competing goals, for example in creating wetlands which can influence prevalence of mosquitoes and ticks. Some of the solutions appear to be related to the geology of the area with this impacting on moisture retention which in turn aids in enhancing biodiversity but in reducing ticks etc. He also pointed to the conflicts between infectious diseases and biodiversity goals and interesting position for EHPs responsible for the former but affected by the latter.
Professor Hemda Garelick focused on the risks arising from antimicrobial resistance from a historical, medical and biological perspective. She highlighted the behaviour of cells through mutation, preventing entry of antimicrobials, and internal use of enzymes. This was followed up by myself looking at the impact of antimicrobial resistance on our practice. A personal reflection is that those positions of policy such as irradiation may need to change in light antimicrobial resistance and how bigger issues which would initially be beyond the scope of our practice are going to impinge of our future roles and protection of public health.
Finally Joy Ofremu, a recent graduate of both environmental health and the masters in occupational health and safety at Middlesex University talked about the risks from biomass fuels in occupational settings. She pointed to the significant risks to health from particulate matter and the double exposure from home and work were impacting on health. Worthy of note is that she was the first recipient of the Xavier Bonnefoy student grant that enable this study to be undertaken.
As a group (EHRnet) who are trying to encourage the embedding of a research culture within the profession my reflections on the day were that this was a great success. There were 65 attendees who I think took away a greater understanding of a range of future risks that the profession will have to consider and how these might impact on practice but were also given a model for public health that is more inclusive and sustainable. All credit to the organisers (International Special Interest Group of CIEH).
Review by Alan Page
At EHRNet we are committed to contributing toward a growing body of literature in environmental health. Alongside our research briefings we are now also launching occasional papers, which seek to provide more general reading in relevant areas. The first of these is now freely available for wide circulation and readership subject to the usual rules of referencing.
To obtain a copy of Housing, health, safety and wellbeing click here.
Best wishes, Jill
Apologies for another quiet period, the start of the new academic year is always an interesting time, plus we have been busy with PhD writing up and our next two research briefings… This week saw the launch of two important sources of environmental health evidence. This first is the publication of Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region and is available (for free) from Marmot’s Institute of Health Equity website via:
This page also directs the reader to a summary review article recently published in the Lancet and currently available to all as an open access paper. Needless to say the report provides more powerful evidence of the need for actions, including environmental health actions, across society to address health inequities. My thanks also to EHP Peter Archer of the Housing Consultancy Partnership (http://www.thcp.org/) for drawing our attention to Marmot’s recent podcast on 26th October 2013 which opened BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival and can be downloaded from here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r3arts/all (scroll down to 26th October 2013)
Second, those interested in the history of environmental health will be interested to learn of the publication of the digital archive of the Medical Officer of Health reports for London (1848-1972) by the Wellcome Library, available for free via:
Maev Kennedy of the Guardian wrote an introduction to the archive this week to give you a flavour of what’s there (http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/oct/28/ice-cream-health-hazards-archive) and (Shock! Horror!) EH professionals (or inspectors of nuisance/sanitary inspectors – who probably did most of the report data collection) are mentioned! I have yet to start exploring the archive, the next phase includes the digitising of reports from other towns and cities, but what a wonderful potential resource for EHPs and a powerful reminder that our battles to reduce health inequities are nothing new!
Many thanks and best wishes,
We are grateful to Alison Randall, Science and Technology Librarian of Middlesex University for recently contacting the publishers of our eBook to ask how Universities can make it available electronically?
On 20th September 2013 Lulu publications advised that University libraries need to purchase one copy and with the permission of all the authors they can make the book available via their electronic catalogues in PDF format.
We have therefore published a permission letter on our website for Universities which can be downloaded via our eBook page: http://ukehrnet.wordpress.com/ebook/
Lastly, we apologise that the eBook is not currently available in other electronic formats and for the time it has taken to clarify this situation. We’d also be grateful if you could pass this information on to interested academic colleagues.
Many thanks and best wishes,
Rob, Caroline, Surindar, Jill and Alan
It has long been a concern of public and environmental health to address living conditions for gypsies and travellers. This original and timely text is the first published research from the UK to address the neglected topic of the increasing (and largely enforced) settlement of Gypsies and Travellers in conventional housing. It highlights the complex and emergent tensions and dynamics inherent when policy and popular discourse combine to frame ethnic populations within a narrative of movement.
The authors – Dr David Smith (University of Greenwich) and Professor Margaret Greenfields (Bucks New University) – have extensive knowledge of the communities and experience as policy practitioners and researchers and consider the changing culture and dynamics experienced by ethnic Gypsies and Travellers. They explore the gendered social, health and economic impacts of settlement and demonstrate the tenacity of cultural formations and their adaptability in the face of policy-driven constraints that are antithetical to traditional lifestyles.
Royalties for this book are to be divided equally between the Gypsy Council and Travellers Aid Trust. To order a copy click here.
David Smith (guest blogger)
From today we begin publishing a series of free research briefings based on our eBook to try to better communicate what we consider important aspects of environmental health research and publication. Our first briefing via the link below introduces evidence based environmental health.
Future topics will include advice for EH professionals on how to make their work more evidence based and explore areas like how to read and write for research and publication.
EHRNet Research briefing 1 – Introduction to evidence based EH
The briefing can also be downloaded from our dedicated web page:
Please also pass on this post to interested friends and colleagues. Lastly, we would welcome your thoughts on topics for future briefings and whether you found this briefing useful?
Many thanks and best wishes,
Caroline, Rob, Alan, Surindar and Jill
My thanks go to the finely tuned warning antennae of the Politics of Health Group (http://www.pohg.org.uk/) for spreading word of this letter in the latest British Medical Journal which can be accessed for free via:http://tinyurl.com/oo7raxk
I take my hat off to the letter’s North West authors (from University, local authority and NHS Trust) for organising and crunching the data plotting local authority cuts (2010-11 to 2014-15) against premature mortality rates and having the guts to stick their heads above the parapet and publish their simple graph via the BMJ’s open access letters page.
The graph trend suggests that those living in local authorities experiencing the greatest cuts (mainly in the North of England) are mainly also those with the highest rates of premature mortality. Their letter concludes by asking: ‘how are local authorities supposed to reduce inequalities in the face of austerity measures that are likely to do the opposite?’ At risk of sounding like a government minister, this doesn’t sound very ‘fair’ to me?
More broadly, I think this provides an excellent example of the collaborative work we should all be doing in public health (one of the authors is a local authority politician, hurrah!), how we can make good use of data already out there and, most importantly, how we must have the courage to get more political and challenge the (seemingly unstoppable) national government policy bulldozers before it’s too late!
With best wishes, Rob