Advancing global health through environmental and public health tracking

Lauriola, Paolo, Crabbe, Helen, Behbod, Behrooz, Yip, Fuyuen, Medina, Sylvia, Semenza, Jan C, Vardoulakis, Sotiris, Kass, Dan, Zeka, Ariana and Khonelidze, Irma (2020) Advancing global health through environmental and public health tracking. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17 (6). p. 1976.

Abstract

Abstract
Global environmental change has degraded ecosystems. Challenges such as climate change, resource depletion (with its huge implications for human health and wellbeing), and persistent social inequalities in health have been identified as global public health issues with implications for both communicable and noncommunicable diseases. This contributes to pressure on healthcare systems, as well as societal systems that affect health. A novel strategy to tackle these multiple, interacting and interdependent drivers of change is required to protect the population’s health. Public health professionals have found that building strong, enduring interdisciplinary partnerships across disciplines can address environment and health complexities, and that developing Environmental and Public Health Tracking (EPHT) systems has been an effective tool. EPHT aims to merge, integrate, analyse and interpret environmental hazards, exposure and health data. In this article, we explain that public health decision-makers can use EPHT insights to drive public health actions, reduce exposure and prevent the occurrence of disease more precisely in efficient and cost-effective ways. An international network exists for practitioners and researchers to monitor and use environmental health intelligence, and to support countries and local areas toward sustainable and healthy development. A global network of EPHT programs and professionals has the potential to advance global health by implementing and sharing experience, to magnify the impact of local efforts and to pursue data knowledge improvement strategies, aiming to recognise and support best practices. EPHT can help increase the understanding of environmental public health and global health, improve comparability of risks between different areas of the world including Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), enable transparency and trust among citizens, institutions and the private sector, and inform preventive decision making consistent with sustainable and healthy development. This shows how EPHT advances global health efforts by sharing recent global EPHT activities and resources with those working in this field. Experiences from the US, Europe, Asia and Australasia are outlined for operating successful tracking systems to advance global health.

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