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Third WHO Environmental Health Economics Network

Over 20 members of EHEN, including HEAL and its member Hainaut Vigilance Sanitaire recently met to discuss new economic assessments, strategy and future work. HEAL highlighted the need to get better data on health costs from chemical exposure.

The network, which is coordinated by the WHO Center on Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany, was launched in 2012. EHEN’s activities aim at establishing a partnership network, relaying environmental health economics to target audiences and producing scientific evidence. The network will also feed into the upcoming midterm review of environment and health ministers in the WHO European region on protecting children’s health from environmental threats (scheduled for November in Israel).

HEAL is a member of the EHEN’s advisory board, and providing input particularly on opportunities that exist for relaying environmental health economics evidence to EU policy-makers. Data on economic costs and benefits of environmental measures, including the cost of inaction is highly relevant for decision-makers at all levels, be it at European, national or local level. This information can be used when deciding on new policies or to compare policy options in the areas of outdoor air quality, climate change, transport, water or chemicals.

Participants at the 3rd EHEN meeting discussed details on different economic tools available for environmental health assessments and heard of recent or ongoing studies in the areas of air pollution, noise and chemicals. One example is the German GEniUS project, through which a database on available environmental health economics studies has been compiled. This English database will be launched soon. More information available here.

Particularly fruitful was the exchange with Dr. Dana Roy and Nils Axel Braathen of OECD, who had just published a study on: The Cost of air pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transport. OECD estimates that outdoor air pollution in OECD countries costs 1.7 trillion US-Dollars, and that road transport accounts for 50% of this cost.

HEAL’s Deputy Director Anne Stauffer prepared a presentation on Health costs from exposure to chemicals and heavy metals for the meeting, and encouraged the network to carry out further work in this field.

One of EHEN’s future outcomes will be a topical series to combine environmental health evidence with economic analysis. Air pollution will be the first issue presented in more detail, followed by asbestos and noise. Participants in the network have already started to bring together overviews of available studies and tools, and best practice examples where economic evidence has been included in environmental health decision-making. More information available here.

You can read more about the network’s activities at a dedicated webpage here or sign up to the newsletter here. You can also follow EHEN on LinkedIn.

For any questions or queries please contact Frank George at the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health georgef@ecehbonn.euro.who.int

Originally posted on 26 June 2014

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