3117.1 Health in the Green Economy: Identifying core healthy community interventions in the context of greener housing, transport, and health facilities.

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM
Developed and developing countries face a soaring non-communicable disease burden and rising health care costs. But there are significant, unexplored opportunities for preventing NCDs through more sustainable development and climate change mitigation, which require closer public health scrutiny. This session examines how green development of housing, transport and health care facilities can generate significant health "co-benefits" in terms of disease prevention. Findings underline the critical importance of "healthy and green" development as "core" community public health interventions. This session is built around a recent WHO "Health in the Green Economy" series, assessing health co-benefits (and risks where relevant) of climate change mitigation measures in key economic sectors. Mitigation measures considered in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), were assessed in terms of their potential to impact health via : 1) specific disease/injury outcomes, 2) environmental health risks, and 3) health equity. Evidence considered included epidemiological studies and scenario modelling. Comparative analysis illustrates how some 'green' policies may yield better health outcomes than others. For instance, lower-emissions vehicles may reduce air pollution. However, investments in urban transit and active transport (walking and cycling) can act simultaneously upon multiple health risks physical inactivity, traffic injury, and air pollution. In terms of housing, greener and more climate-friendly designs may help reduce both acute respiratory infections as well as risks from NCDs such as asthma and allergies. The review of health facilities discusses how health care institutions are adopting and modelling innovative technologies for "distributed power generation, use and storage" that may both improve energy efficiencies and facility performance. The session continues the discussion of community and environmental health themes introduced in Monday's first Special Session on "Place Matters: Achieving Health and Social Justice", sharpening the focus on the evidence about specific interventions that are core to a healthy community. The proposed session is to be organized by the World Health Organization, Department of Public Health and Environment, and built around the following speakers, all of whom who contributed to the Health in the Green Economy analyses:
Session Objectives: Describe and analyze available evidence on the community health impacts of very specific and well-defined investments in: 1) climate friendly and energy-efficient housing, 2) more sustainable transport and 3) greener, more energy efficient health facilities. Examine sectors in terms of concrete interventions/development strategies now under discussion in major climate change and global policy forums. Analyze strategies in light of evidence and how they may impact: 1) NCD burden and risks of communicable disease transmission 2) environmental health risks and 3) health equity. Define and evaluate a method for assessing environmental health co-benefits (and risks) arising from economic decisions made in key economic sectors, harnessing available evidence from epidemiological and community health studies, including: intervention studies; epidemiological and burden of disease studies, comparative risk assessment and cluster controlled studies; and in some cases, randomized controlled studies. Compare evidence of health impact from different intervention/investment strategies so as to identify "best buys" for health: e.g. the potential health impacts of investments in better housing insulation as compared to investments in cleaner home energy systems; or, in the case of transport, investments in cleaner vehicle technologies versus investments in public transport systems.
Carlos Dora, MD, MsC, PhD

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Organized by: APHA

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

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