People’s health is determined to a large extent by the social, environmental and economic factors that influence daily life. These factors, or ‘health determinants’, are wide ranging, including issues such as exposure to noise and air pollution, access to green space, education, income, housing, community cohesion and social networks.
In order to facilitate the seismic shift in human behaviour that is required to address environmental degradation, the narrative about why environmental protection is worthwhile needs to change. The answer lies in ensuring that the positive socio-economic consequences of protecting the natural world are at the heart of law, policy, and public debate.
This requires collaboration between lawyers, the scientific community, the medical profession and the general public.
One Health is a concept that draws on the complex inter-relationships between the health of humans, animals and the ecosystem. One Health has also been defined as a multidisciplinary approach to the impact of health at the human-animal interface. Advocates for One Health have put forward different perspectives and the WHO definition places emphasis on protecting human health and food safety through the control zoonoses and the spread of antibiotic resistance. Given the importance of this area the main drivers of One Health activity have either been in the field of veterinary medicine, public health and infectious diseases. Although these are important global issues facing the agricultural industry there has been little attention on the impact of One Health on conservation particularly at the interface between human and wildlife, which often compete for the same resources. Issues such as human wildlife conflict, nutrition, mental health, reproductive health and trauma are all growing challenges at the interface between human and wildlife habitats. There is an urgent need to look at One Health work through the conservation lens and establish closer links with other stake holders to ensure that health is placed at the heart of conservation planning and practice.
In 2010 a high profile, Government commissioned review by Sir Michael Marmot, drew attention to correlations between socio-economic conditions and health inequalities. Around this time, health impact assessment (HIA) of plans and projects was becoming common practice, driven by a growing understanding of the link between spatial development and health.
With the exponential increase in scientific understanding of the link between pollution and biodiversity decline and adverse health outcomes, there is no better time to drive this agenda forward for the benefit of all the creatures with whom we share this planet.
In 2017 the revised Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations introduced the consideration of effects on ‘population and human health’ as a legal requirement for major development projects. While there is no prescribed definition, this has been widely interpreted in line with the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Health is also routinely included in policy assessments, often through ‘integrated impact assessment’, which incorporates health and equality issues within the statutory process of Sustainability Appraisal. The ‘Health in all Policies’ approach, promoted by the Local Government Association, systematically takes into account health implications in local planning and decision making.
Our panel of experts will reflect on how effective these changes have been in improving health outcomes, look at practical examples of how good design can improve health, and ask what more can be done within the planning system to reduce health inequalities.
Chair: Pamela Castle OBE HonFSE
Dr Veneta Cooney, Consultant Physician in Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Jenny Dunwoody, Associate, Arup
Martin Spray CBE, Chief Executive, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
Dr Chetan Trivedy, BDS FDS RCS (Eng) MBBS PhD FRCEM, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Founder, Tulsi Foundation
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