The main aim of the workshop held in Modena on 14th and 15th May was the development of an International Network on Public Health Environmental Tracking – INPHET – to strengthen existing networks in environmental health surveillance among national and regional public health institutes, as well as developing new initiatives across both Europe and other continents.
The first step towards the implementation of INPHET was the exchange of knowledge and experience among the participating countries. This exchange took place in interactive working groups, chaired by key international experts in environmental public health, which focused on three main themes:
- Partnerships: strategies and opportunities in developing an international network;
- Science and Data: data availability, indicators, methods and training;
- Ethics and Confidentiality: legal frameworks, relationships with industry, data exchange and confidentiality.
The workshop focused on procedures to initiate INPHET and explore:
- Advancing environmental health by tracking exposures, hazards and health effects;
- Identifying INPHET goals in a way to align with broader public health infrastructure needs, yet retaining a focus on environmental health surveillance;
- Identifying partnerships with mutual potential benefits and explore strategies to deliver and receive information;
- Identifying processes that can strengthen communication about INPHET and collaboration among stakeholders;
- Supporting/co‐ordinating/leading any initiative (such as bids for support) which need to be “winnable”, based on persuasive approach and realistic expectations.
The Modena initiative falls close to the semester of the Italian EU Presidencyand creates an opportunity for Italy to be in a privileged position to face environmental issues from an international perspective.
«The integration of experiences matured in different countries in the field of prevention could help overcome the passiveness typical of this world», explained Paolo Lauriola from Modena. He also hoped that «participating in the INPHET network may lead up to a widening of the cultural and operative horizon not only for people who produce knowledge in the environmental health field, but also for decision-makers involved in public health, who are now expected to overcome the contrast among health, environment, work and development».