227102 Indexing the environmental costs of public health achievements: What international comparisons teach us

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:06 PM - 1:24 PM

Andrew Jameton, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Elizabeth Hoffman , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Ge Lin, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Anna Walburn , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Richard Yoder, PE , P2RIC Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE
"Environmental indexing" of public health achievements in relationship to environmental costs is a growing practice. This practice arises from an increasing recognition that the environmental costs of high public health status must be considered if economies are to become sustainable and reduce their ecological footprint. Usually, indexing employs a “ratio” approach. But, it is better to use a weighted average of key factors – this makes comparisons fairer and exposes relevant values. For example, international and intra-national social justice and health disparities must be reflected in the measure. Some nations and regions achieve high average health status at relatively low environmental cost; others maintain an environmentally costly economy with little relative health improvement. Of most interest are countries that enjoy high health status at low ecological footprint. Understanding the public health practices of these countries can help environmentally less efficient countries to protect their high health status during the next century. We also consider whether these are the same or different nations identified in the 1980s work on "good health at low cost." And, we consider the long term sustainability of these nations' achievements. In the international debate over climate change and other environmental challenges, public health has not been taken sufficiently into account. As countries strive to lower their environmental impact, especially their carbon footprint, indexing allows us to ensure that public health is a salient criterion of success. Indexing also highlights some major challenges in maintaining high international public health status during the next generations.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
- Analyze the elements of "environmental indexing" of public health status by nation and region - Compare the effects of different scales of health status and environmental impact on indexing - Identify regions that achieve high public health status most efficiently - Analyze approaches to including health disparities in this form of indexing - Describe likely national and regional factors related to environmentally efficient public health

Keywords: Environmental Health, International Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an expert in environmental health ethics and I have carefully studied the material and consulted with relevant experts.
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.