NEHA and the World Health Organization.

Author:Fabian, Nelson
Position:National Environmental Health Association - Editorial

I had the meeting experience of my life in 1997, when I found a way to get into the G8 Summit that took place in Denver. That I somehow found a way to get into the same building with the eight most powerful human beings on the planet was, more than anything else, a story of perseverance, opportunism, creativity, and imagination. Suffice it to say that I hadn't been invited to begin with!

I had a similar experience a couple of months ago--though not quite on the same scale.

Family considerations took us to Geneva this summer. As we were planning our trip, I said to myself, "Geneva--why that's where WHO is." And then, as with the G8 Summit, starting first with a thought and then an intent, I had before long worked out not one but two meetings with WHO officials to add to our family trip! Both quickly proved to be exceptional meetings.

Since you, environmental health, and NEHA were on my mind throughout these visits, I thought I would use my column this month to summarize what those meeting discussions entailed.

One of my meetings was with Dr. Jamie Bartram--who has a leadership position over WHO's public health and environment program. We talked about a host of ways in which NEHA and WHO could work together on behalf of the environmental health cause. The issues and the highlights of our discussions can be briefly reported as follows:

* Volunteers -- We talked about how NEHA might serve as a vehicle through which NEHA members could possibly volunteer for WHO assignments.

* A WHO column in the Journal of Environmental Health -- We talked in promising ways about WHO authoring a column for the Journal of Environmental Health. Such a column would give WHO a direct communication pipeline to NEHA members to ensure that we are all kept uniquely informed on key worldwide environmental health issues and concerns. (I know of no other professional society that offers such a program.)


* NEHA involvement in WHO policy setting -- We discussed ways in which NEHA could become an "NGO in official relations with WHO." In such a capacity, NEHA would enjoy a right of voice at the World Health Assembly. We also discussed ways in which NEHA (and, more specifically, our members) could become involved in WHO committees that write up guidance documents.

* WHO involvement at our Annual Educational Conference (AEC) -- I'm pleased to note that significance interest was expressed in speaking at the AEC. Such a presentation would give our attendees...

To continue reading