Advancing environmental health literacy is not a top-down process from expert to resident. As a public health practitioner, the most valuable lessons I nurture have come from the expertise and leadership of those who are disproportionately affected by societal inequities.
Health literacy has mostly focused on promoting understanding of how to navigate healthcare and self-manage one’s health conditions. To truly advance prevention, the relationship between the environment and health should also be made widely accessible — particularly within under-served communities.
Pediatric asthma affects an estimated 7.1 million children in the U.S. under the age of 18. In the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a largely immigrant Latino community, pediatric asthma affects more than 14% of school age children, primarily due to environmentally related health disparities. In a city like Lawrence, issues such as language, literacy, and culture present challenges to reaching and engaging families in environmental health education.
The buzz of intense conversation didn’t stop…in less than two days, a select group of 150 delegates to the Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) Conference in Addis Ababa produced an impressive list of recommendations reflecting work in the Philippines, Tanzania, Madagascar, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia among other countries. PHE is a severely under-funded initiative, struggling to find its way among the sectoral approaches favored by donors.
Terry Greene, Senior Environmental Health Associate at JSI, shares the highlights of her day attending presentations addressing environmental health issues at APHA 2013.