Environmental health services are essential to safeguarding public health and the well-being of our communities. They address factors and risks that can negatively impact human health, such as pollution in air, water, and food sources.
These services can help ensure everyone lives a healthy life and has access to a high quality of life. Furthermore, these activities reduce healthcare costs and save lives by preventing illnesses, injuries, and premature death.
These services are essential for protecting the environment and preventing disease in our homes, businesses, schools, and neighborhoods. They play a significant role in maintaining America’s health, and their importance will only increase over time.
Environmental health services are integral to the Core Functions of Public Health and have been updated in 2020 to actively promote policies, systems, and overall community conditions that support optimal health for all. This guidance is targeted at health department leaders, environmental health leaders, accreditation and performance improvement staff as well as other program staff.
In 2014, the National Association of County and City Health Officials reported that many local health departments had reduced or eliminated environmental health programs for budgetary reasons. This is an issue that must be addressed right away.
To maximize the efficiency of limited resources, health departments must determine which interventions provide the greatest value per dollar spent. This requires an evaluation of environmental health programs’ cost-effectiveness and value.
One way to judge the value of environmental health interventions is by looking at their ability to save lives and reduce costs in the long run. Studies have demonstrated that investments in environmental health interventions can significantly reduce deaths from diseases, as well as have a beneficial effect on healthcare costs in the long run.
Analyzing the economic consequences of a policy or strategy can be especially useful, and it also gives insight into whether an intervention works at both state and local levels.
The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have designed tools to assist communities to assess their environmental health capacity, as well as identifying opportunities to enhance these capacities. One such resource is the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH).
There are a number of tools available to assist communities in assessing their environmental health capacity and creating plans to build it. These include the EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment Roadmap, CDC’s Community Environmental Health Assessment (CEHA), and NACCHO’s Toolkit for Planning.
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) serves 5,000 members to promote environmental health and protection professionals by upholding high standards of practice and testing for its credentialing programs. Its membership encompasses a diverse group of environmental health practitioners, from scientists to administrators. NEHA programs offer continuing education credits, journals, and various online courses that aid in professional development. Furthermore, the organization hosts an annual conference that facilitates networking opportunities as well as career growth among members.