178995 A Community guide to environmental health: Improving human health through sustainable use of ecosystems

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pam Fadem , Hesperian Foundation, Berkeley, CA
Public health is facing increasing threats on every continent, in communities large and small, from a decrease of environmental resources necessary to sustain good health and increasing toxic pollution of the remaining resources. A Community Guide to Environmental Health, developed in collaboration with community organizations and public health and development agencies worldwide, offers practical steps for both urban and rural communities to improve public health through more sustainable use of environmental resources and services. Starting from the perspective that a shared understanding of a problem strengthens a community's ability to implement effective change in how resources are used to improve livelihood and public health, this guide offers activities for community health education and assessment, such as a ‘trash walk' to evaluate household and community-level waste problems, or a conflict resolution exercise for improving management of forest products. It then provides practical solutions to these problems, such as different composting techniques to handle ‘wet' waste and how to build a community resource recovery center, or ways to plant trees and restore damaged lands in both rural and urban areas. The Community Guide includes stories of how people have built local leadership and community infrastructure to improve health through more sustainable use of resources such as water, soil, forest products, and renewable sources of energy. It includes as well steps for use in environmental disasters, such as ways to make water safe and building toilets for use in refugee camps communities.

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe three different types of activities used to assess a community environmental health problem. 2.Identify at least 3 solutions to sanitation and water problems in both rural and urban communities. 3.Discuss ways that development and public health agencies can work with communities to make use of environmental resources more sustainable.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am co-author of the Community Guide to Environmental Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.