HSE West and NUI Galway to host International Environmental Health Conference

Monday, 26 March 2007

HSE West and NUI Galway are this week bringing together a host of experts in environmental health for the country's first ever international conference on reducing environmental risks and protecting public health.

The collaborative HSE West/NUI Galway three-day conference aims to highlight new thinking, new science and new horizons in protecting our shared environment and the health of current and future generations. There will be a particular emphasis on the role of research in informing health policy and in evaluating health intervention programmes.

Speakers at the 'New Horizons in Environmental Health' conference include RTE ECO Eye presenter Duncan Stewart; Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Katharine Hammond, University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Diarmuid O'Donovan, Director of Public Health, HSE West and Dr. Martina Prendergast, Development Manager, Environmental Change Institute (ECI), NUI Galway.

Over 100 Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from Ireland and the UK have already registered for the conference, which opens on Wednesday, 28 March, in the Environmental Change Institute, NUI Galway and continues in the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill on Thursday and Friday 29 & 30 March. Maurice Mulcahy, Principal Environmental Health Officer, HSE West, and the driving force behind the conference, says the potential benefits to public health of empowering EHOs to participate in research initiatives that assess exposures and risks associated with environmental factors, cannot be ignored.

"This conference will give us a rich insight into the issues concerning international experts in the environmental health field and will provide a stepping point for new initiatives that will have a real impact on reducing the varied risks that we encounter in our daily lives," says Mr Mulcahy.

A prominent theme of the conference will be the role of environmental research in informing health policy and in evaluating health intervention strategies. Dr Martina Prendergast, Development Manager of the ECI, and one of the principal organisers of the conference, says she hopes the conference will emphasise the importance of developing a research culture within the environmental health field.

"The role of our environment and the way people's health is influenced by the quality of that environment is something on which we should all place great significance. We can only tackle global threats such as climate change, new and emerging diseases, loss of biodiversity and security of energy supply by developing a fundamental understanding of key processes which are causing our environment to change," she says.

It is hoped that the conference will help towards bridging the gap between academic research and the development of relevant research policy in the area of environmental health, through the successful collaboration and cooperation between the academic community, environmental health practitioners and policy makers.

Ends

Further Information: Mary Garvin, Communications Department, HSE West; Tel: 091 – 775750; Mob: 087 – 9310000 Email: mary.garvin@mailn.hse.ie

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