Environment and health indicators system
An environment and health (EH) information system is an essential tool to support policy-making, allowing priorities to be set on the basis of evidence, enhancing access to information and facilitating communication with the public. WHO/Europe established and runs ENHIS, a harmonized and evidence-based information system on environment and health to support public health and environmental policies in the WHO European Region. It consists of a set of 22 indicators. These indicators on exposure, health effects, and policy actions were selected for their relevance towards EH factors. These developments are important elements for the European Environment and Health Strategy.
In the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health (Parma, Italy, 2010) the main focus was the protection of children's health in a changing environment. To this aim, the conference selected Regional Priority Goals (RPG) to monitor the children's health and adopted five time-bound commitments. A set of 18 EH indicators to be integrated into ENHIS will measure progress. Further work on definitions and methodologies is needed to refine each indicator. These indicators are necessary to monitor current policies and actions, in particular, the Children's Environment and health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE) and the European Environment and Health Strategy.
The Parma Conference has also identified that protecting health and the environment from climate change is a priority. Under the Climate, Environment and Health Action Plan Information System (CEHAPIS) project, WHO/Europe and the European Commission recommend a set of 17 indicators defined as health relevant climate change indicators.
These different sets of EH indicators are listed in the annexes of the WHO/Europe document 'Tools for the monitoring of Parma Conference commitments'.
The road to ENHIS is the result of joint efforts by WHO/Europe and the European Commission based on the experience of former projects:
- the ECOEHIS project 'Development of EH indicators for EU countries' recommended the first list of health indicators on exposure, effects, and actions for immediate implementation;
- The ENHIS project implementing a 'Environmental and Health Information System in Europe';
- The ENHIS 2 project establishing an ENHIS supporting policy-making in Europe.
See the Indicators and fact sheets about Europe's environment developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA)