Parma hosts 5th Intergovernmental Environment and Health Conference

March 5, 2010

Conference will build on committments made five years ago in Budapest


More then five years have passed since the Fourth Environment and Health Ministerial Conference was held in Budapest. As a result of important Budapest efforts and subsequent results, World Health Organization (WHO) European region member states have focused on implementing conference recommendations as contained in both the Budapest Conference Declaration and Children's Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe.

Italian involvement with ongoing WHO efforts to tackle Europe's environment-related health problems is now greater than ever, and the city of Parma will host the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health on March 10-12.

Commitments made at the Budapest conference will be reconfirmed in Parma, and these include the four Regional Priority Goals: water and sanitation; injuries and accidents; air quality; and chemicals, noise, other physical agents and occupational health.

The SEARCH project is an example of regional cooperation to implement Priority Goal No. 3 of the Children's Health and Environment Action Plan (CEHAPE), namely: 'Prevention and reduction of respiratory diseases of children due to out-door and indoor air pollution, by complex research in schools'.

The project, launched and financed by Italy's Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS), and in collaboration with the Regional Environmental Center (REC) - based on bilateral cooperation between Italy and Hungary -aims to promote the improvement of indoor air quality in schools in order to reduce the risk of acute and chronic pathologies and the number of allergic attacks among sensitive individuals.

After a required amount of study and analysis, the SEARCH project aims to encourage develop and promote practical, realisable ways to improve air quality in schools, and to spread awareness and understanding of health risks posed by environmental factors to families, school staff and all stakeholders who, in different ways, look after the health of young pupils.

As part of this project, complex comparative research has taken place in schools from eight countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Serbia and Slovakia. And it is within the context of the Parma conference's 'Protecting Children's Health in a Changing Environment' forum that the results and implications of this research will be shared and discussed.

The international research team of the SEARCH project found that outdoor pollution, school air quality, standards of living and parental attitudes towards children's health issues are the greatest determining factors in incidence of respiratory diseases among children. The long-term goal of the project is to develop suggestions for preventive and legal measures, as well as for criteria to control indoor air quality - with special attention to various allergies.

SEARCH project research results, a conclusion and policy recommendations will be presented in Parma at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Health and the Environment (see the SEARCH side-event programme below).