AHP1401:        Environmental Health and Disaster Management - An International Effort for Training and Awareness

 

Speaker:          Tim Hatch, MPA, REHS/RS; Ben Ryan

 

 

Globally, environmental health professionals have a critical role in mitigating public health risks before and after disasters.  To build this capacity, the International Federation of Environmental Health, CDC and NEHA have collaborated to develop the course, "Environmental Health and Disaster Management," heavily guided by CDC's successful Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response course.

 

Attend this session to see how this type of course promotes the profession and ensures that professionals are adequately equipped to prepare, respond, recover and mitigate the adverse impacts of disasters internationally.

 

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Globally, environmental health professionals have a critical role in mitigating public health risks before and after disasters.  Their roles will expand in the future as the world’s population density increases and climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent.  Many of these risks can be either mitigated or addressed within the existing capacities of environmental health professionals; however, a disaster response has unique challenges, and a specific skill set from a range of professions and collaboration at all levels of government are required. To build this capacity, the International Federation of Environmental Health, the CDC and NEHA have collaborated to develop the course, “Environmental Health and Disaster Management.”

This course recognizes that environmental health professionals are in the best position to assess and address the impacts of disasters.  The content is guided heavily by the successful Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response course developed by CDC.

To date, five courses have been taught internationally.  Comparison of knowledge gains and feedback from participants indicated a high-level of need for a two to three day course across the Asia-Pacific and in other parts of the world.  The main reason for this is the need to shorten the time required out of the office.  This approach would allow more people to attend the course, particularly managers, decisions makers and those who need to travel a long-distance.  Requests have been made for future courses in Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Jamaica and South Africa.  This demand is expected to increase if future courses target participants from Ministries of Health and emergency management agencies who play an active role in emergencies.

To sustain this initiative, IFEH is eager to continue developing strong collaboration with CDC, NEHA and in-country environmental health associations.  Such a course would promote environmental health and ensure that professionals are adequately equipped to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the adverse impacts of disasters internationally.  Achieving this will not only benefit the environmental health profession but also ultimately help save many lives and protect livelihoods worldwide.