Healthy Environments for Children Alliance

Healthy Environments for Children Alliance listserv

The Healthy Environments for Children Alliance listserv (HECANET) is an international mailing list dedicated to promoting healthy environments for children. The list provides updates on the activities of the Healthy Environments for Children Alliance (HECA), advocacy tools and information resources, relevant meeting announcements, and reports on technical research and monitoring related to environmental risks to children's health.


14-11-03

  • Forum IV: Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety
  • Involving Youth in the 4th Ministerial Conference
  • Workshop on Sustainable and Healthy Urban Transport and Planning
  • USEPA's New Web Site on Children and the Environment
  • Workshop on Assessment of Environmental Health Risks for Children
  • Healthy Environments for Children WHO/AMG Round Table
  • Journal of Water and Health
  • Feature: Chagas Disease in La Cuchilla, Sta Barbara, Honduras

Forum IV: Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety

The Fourth session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (1-7 November 2003) made substantive progress towards achieving sound global management of chemical safety. Delegates at all levels singled the need to protect children from chemical threats and safeguard their environment. “The enforcement of the Forum recommendations will certainly promote actions at all levels which will make the world safer for our children, now and in the future,” said Dr Jenny Pronczuk, Medical Doctor, World Health Organization. There was a strong call for action to mitigate known risks and to address areas of uncertainty concerning children’s exposure to chemical threats. The need to consider children’s possible enhanced exposures and/or special vulnerabilities whenever acceptable levels of exposure or criteria related to chemicals are being set was emphasized. Governments were called to prepare initial national assessments of children’s environmental and chemical safety. These assessments should identify the priority concerns in their country, and provide the basis for developing action plans to address those concerns. More information: http://www.who.int/ifcs/Forums/ForumIV/Forum_IV.htm.

Involving Youth in the 4th Ministerial Conference

In collaboration with WHO/EURO, Young Minds will be involved in the preparations for, and be present at, the 4th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health (Budapest, June 2004). Young Minds is an Internet-based project through which young people from multiple European countries communicate and explore the links between youth, culture and health. A schools programme on "environment, health and being young" is now underway, encouraging young people to reflect on the impact of the environment on health and the role of young people in environmental health issues. At the Conference itself, Young Minds will enable youth from eight participating countries to play a part in the debate on environment and health. Select schools will send student and teacher representatives to demonstrate the use of ICTs at the Conference. All schools throughout Europe will be able to follow the Conference through a live interactive Web site. More information: http://www.young-minds.net/.

Workshop on Sustainable and Healthy Urban Transport and Planning

Sustainable and healthy urban transport and planning contribute to healthy environments for children by, for example, preventing road traffic injuries (the leading cause of death from unintentional injury among children) and decreasing levels of air pollution (a major environment-related health threat to children and a risk factor for both acute and chronic respiratory disease). The main objective of the Workshop on Sustainable and Healthy Urban Transport and Planning (16-18 November 2003, Nicosia, Cyprus) is to review good practices and lessons learnt for integrating environment and health considerations into urban transport and land-use planning through case-studies. Workshop participants will discuss the existing strategies, policy and fiscal measures, awareness-raising methods and integrated land-use planning processes. Particular emphasis will be placed on the problems of the countries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central-Asia, with the aim of identifying sub-regional issues demanding further attention. The workshop is being organized by the Government of Cyprus in cooperation with the UNECE and WHO/Europe secretariats, and in consultation with the Bureau of Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme Steering Committee. More information: http://www.unece.org/the-pep/new/en/workplan/urban/urban_implementation.htm.

USEPA's New Web Site on Children and the Environment

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has recently launched a new online resource for children's environmental health. The America's Children and the Environment Web site (located at http://www.epa.gov/envirohealth/children) presents data on environmental contaminants and children's health. The Web site highlights trends for levels of environmental contaminants in air, water, food, and soil; concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of women and children; and childhood illnesses that may be influenced by environmental contaminants. The site's contents are based on the recently published report "America's Children and the Environment: Measures of Contaminants, Body Burdens and Illnesses".

Workshop on Assessment of Environmental Health Risks for Children

The workshop "Assessment of Environmental Health Risks for Children" was held 10-11 November 2003 in Munich. Experts from internationally reknowned schools of public health and research institutes, the UN system, and German ministries, organizations, and other entities participated in the event. The following topics were covered in detail: general aspects of risk assessment (including the impact of age on toxicologic risks in children), air pollution (including traffic air pollution's role in atopic diseases), passive smoking, allergies, technical electromagentic fields (including the potential effects of low-frequency electromagentic fields on children's health), UV-radiation, nutrition, cancer, accidents, weather and climate, and the ranking of environmental risks. The workshop was sponsored by the Bavarian State Ministry for Environment, Health and Consumer Protection, and was organized by the Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, LMU, Munich. In the coming days, workshop papers will posted to this Web address: http://arbmed.klinikum.uni-muenchen.de/workshop/program.html.

Healthy Environments for Children WHO/AMG Round Table

The Fondation pour Geneve, in conjunction with the World Health Organization and the Association des Medecins du canton de Geneve (AMG), hosted a round table discussion on healthy environments for children (21 October 2003, WHO HQ). During the round table, the environment in its holistic sense was discussed. The significant influence of social and cultural factors for children’s health--in addition to the physical environment--was underscored, as was the importance of collaboration and intersectoral work. A number of risks were discussed, including unsafe chemicals, indoor air pollution, lack of water security, unintentional injuries (accidents), environmental tobacco smoke, and unsafe transport. Social issues such as alcohol abuse and depression, which may lead to suicide and domestic violence, were presented as adding another dimension to unhealthy environments for children. Participants recognized that risk factors should be addressed using a "settings" approach to facilitate action across sectors. The round table demonstrated, above all, the importance of collaboration for linking initiatives, sectors and the local and national levels. For more information and to download round table presentations in PDF: http://www.who.int/heca/events/whoamgroundtable/en/.

Journal of Water and Health

WHO is now collaborating with IWA Publishing to produce the Journal of Water and Health. This new journal represents a joint commitment to promote the highest-quality research and practice across the full range of challenges to harnessing water for health in developing and developed countries alike. For more information, please see the Web site of WHO's Water, Sanitation and Health department: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/research/en/.

Feature: Chagas Disease in La Cuchilla, Sta Barbara, Honduras

Submitted by Plan ROCCA (Regional Office for the Caribbean and Central America)

The community of La Cuchilla, Santa Barbara, Honduras, has asked Plan ROCCA for help in rebuilding their houses with cement blocks and zinc sheets. Why? Because they do not trust that fumigation and plastering alone can save their children from Chagas disease, which is caused by a flagellate protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted to humans by triatomine insects. The vector finds a favourable habitat in crevices in the adobe (or mud brick) walls and roofs in rural areas and peripheral urban slums.
More information on Chagas disease: (http://www.who.int/health_topics/chagas_disease/en/).
More information on Plan ROCCA's programme (in PDF): http://www.who.int/heca/infomaterials/en/hecanet_planrocca.PDF.

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