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HEAL Position paper: ‘The European Environment & Health Action Plan 2004-2010’

EPHA Environment Network officially presented a position paper on the EU Action Plan on Environment and Health 2004-2010 on the occasion of the EU and Dutch implementation conference which took place in The Netherlands on 2-3 December 2004.

Although HEAL welcomed the Action Plan as a general framework in which to address environmental health challenges, HEAL is disappointed that the significant contribution by Environment and Health Groups, who act on behalf of the wider public, has been, to a large extent, disregarded. The Action Plan fails to take forward many of the concrete and important proposals of the SCALE Technical Working Groups and Consultative Group.

Key demands for implementing the Action Plan

HEAL has several key points that are essential to consider in the implementation of the Action Plan.

1. Legislative action or review is a must for an ACTION plan.

2. Precautionary decision-making should provide the basis for SCALE.

3. Protection of vulnerable groups must be at the heart of the Action Plan. This includes improved risk assessment methods that protect vulnerable groups and take into account cocktail effects, low doses and exposure during critical periods of development.

4. The work carried out in the framework of the WHO Environment and Health process, in particular the Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan, and the SCALE process must be properly coordinated.

5. A comprehensive communications strategy and information system must be an integral part of the implementation in order to deliver information on environment-linked health risks in response to European citizens demands. This includes strengthening links between information gathering (Actions 1-4) and awareness raising (Actions 9-13).

6. Concrete measures and resources to create an EU coordinating body for environment and health issues.

7. Development of an integrated EU environment and health mapping (geographical) system.

8. Setting up an EU wide biomonitoring programme.

9. Financial resources and targets, which are critical for better environmental health, must underpin the Action Plan.

10. Four priority diseases have been identified for the first cycle (2004-2010), discussions should begin to discuss priority areas for the second cycle by 2006 on the basis of a mid-term report.

HEAL believes that overall EU leadership has not yet delivered what citizens have been asking for in this area, namely that concrete strides are made in reducing environmental pollution that has a negative impact on people’s health and ensuring that legislation adequately protects our most vulnerable groups in society such as children, women of child bearing age, pregnant women and socio-economically deprived groups.

HEAL realises the tight time schedule and the demanding workload that the Commission was working to in order to present the Action Plan at the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest this June gone. HEAL hopes that the Action Plan can now be implemented into concrete measures, guidelines and action that address the reduction of environmental contaminants that undermine our health and the sustainability of our environment.

The full position paper can be viewed below. For further information please contact Genon Jensen.

Last updated on 22 June 2011

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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