Introduction


Over the past 50 years, humans have changed natural ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in human history. This transformation of the planet has contributed to substantial net gains in health, well-being and economic development.

Approximately 60% of the benefits that the global ecosystem provides to support life on Earth (such as fresh water, clean air and a relatively stable climate) are being degraded or used unsustainably. Harmful consequences of this degradation to human health are already being felt and could grow significantly worse over the next 50 years.

Ecosystem services are absolutely vital to preventing disease and sustaining good health, the Health Synthesis report underlines. Many important human diseases have originated in animals, and so changes in the habitats of animal populations that are disease vectors or reservoirs, may affect human health, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. For example, the Nipah virus is believed to have emerged after forest clearance fires in Indonesia drove carrier bats to neighbouring Malaysia, where the virus infected intensively-farmed pigs, and then crossed to humans.

Intensive livestock production, while providing benefits to health in terms of improved nutrition, has also created environments favorable to the emergence of diseases. Increased human contact with wild species and "bush meat" as a result of encroachment in forests and changes in diet also create opportunities for disease transmission. Trends ranging from forest clearance to climate-induced habitat changes also appear to have impacted certain populations of mosquitoes, ticks and midges, altering transmission patterns for diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever and chikungunya fever.

Proper environmental management is the key to avoiding the quarter of all preventable illnesses which are directly caused by environmental factors. The environment influences our health in many ways which include exposures to physical, chemical and biological risk factors, leading to the changes in our behavior in response to those factors. Thirteen million deaths annually are due to preventable environmental causes. Preventing environmental risk could save as many as four million lives a year, in children alone, mostly in developing countries.

Therefore, for the second time School of Health Sciences again would like to gather all environment and health scientist, researcher, policy maker, physician, educator, academician and relevant agencies, to pursue their ideas and research finding to be disseminated in the upcoming NCEH 2010 delegates. Ensuring safe environmental health conditions in health care can reduce the transmission of health care associated infections. Environmental health interventions in health-care facilities act not only to directly reduce the disease burden, but are by their nature targeted at high-risk populations. These intentions also provide an educational opportunity to promote safe environments that are relevant to the population at large, and thereby also contribute to safe environments encountered indoor and outdoor.