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Thursday, 14 June 2012 12:42

Introduction To Environmental Health

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Garbage Truch in Shatila Camp Garbage Truch in Shatila Camp

Public health is defined by the World Health Organization as not merely the absence of disease, but the state of physical, mental and social well-being. To achieve that state, community efforts have to be made towards prevention of disease and prolonging life. This is done by maintaining and providing a sanitary environment, controlling communicable and non-communicable diseases, educating the community on health and health-related topics, organizing nursing and medical services for the early diagnosis and prevention of disease and developing a social machinery to ensure an adequate standard of living, by maintaining health and longevity, which are human birthrights to each and every individual.

 

Environmental health is a broad branch of public health that addresses and emphasizes on all human-health related aspects of the environment that are detrimental in the improvement of health outcomes. It is defined as the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling and prevention of factors that affect the quality of lives of people in the community. As such, environmental health is integrated within the concept of public health to create and maintain environments that prevent disease and promote good public health of the communities.

Environmental health is affected by a lot of factors that are naturally present in every environment and are external to a person of physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial nature. It stresses on following a preventative approach rather than an end-of-pipe approach which addresses a health problem after its occurrence, to provide not only for the present communities, but to future generations as well.

In line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially the 3rd ( promoting gender equality & empowerment of women) and the 7th (environmental sustainability) PARD addresses the above mentioned aspects and has an eminent role in being responsible for initiating, shaping and undertaking health promotion. Well organized and empowered communities are highly effective in determining their own health. As such, PARD works with men, women and children to achieve this goal by making sure that they are aware of, amplify and sustain their rights, resources and opportunities in which they are entitled to and work towards receiving them.

Community participation and ownership are detrimental to the success of any community-based project, accordingly, not only does PARD provide basic sanitation services such as providing safe and clean drinking water, maintenance of infrastructure, inhibiting insects and rodents’ infestation and collecting and transporting solid waste, it engages program beneficiaries in these programs for long-term sustainability of these projects.

 

Usually, it is the role of the government to provide these services, however, in the case of the Palestinians living in official camps, it is UNRWA that provides these services (albeit insufficiently) and in the case of Palestinian refugees living in unofficial gatherings and areas that are geographically located outside the UNRWA mandate, neither the Lebanese government nor UNRWA provide services. In some of these areas it is PARD that acts in place of the local municipality.

 

 

Read 20705 times Last modified on Sunday, 07 October 2012 20:30

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