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Better training for health care professionals in environmental and health medicine

Belgium is taking the lead in strengthening the knowledge and capacities of healthcare professionals on environmental medicine. A basic training for medical students is also envisaged. These activities are an initiative of the National health-environment cell.

In the future healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and others, will be able to receive a training diploma/certificate in environmental medicine as indicated by the Belgian Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment at an event hosted by Hainaut Vigilance Sanitaire.

This training should be available from the academic year starting in September 2015 through the Lifelong learning programmes. A basic training should also be integrated into the programme of medical students as a rule, from the academic year starting in September 2014.

You can read the final report here

At the moment, a certificate on tobacco addiction is available to students holding a Master’s degree in Psychology or to healthcare professionals who have completed a training on tobacco addiction. A similar certificate for environmental medicine will be developed for healthcare professionals. According to Yseult Navez of the Belgian Federal Public Service, ‘it will allow them to recognise more easily the diseases related to environmental factors’.

Yseult Navez adds, ‘the environment is an important health determinant. It is therefore very important that healthcare professionals take into account the environment in which their patients live and work and that they are able to recognise diseases that could be attributed totally or partially, to environmental factors’.

This training in environmental medicine is an initiative of the Cellule Nationale Santé-Environnement (National health-environment cell), which is a partnership between the Belgian federal government, Communities and Regions in the field of environment and health. Belgian Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment says ‘in this way, the various political levels in Belgium can collaborate on projects focused on the impact of the environment on health’.

Marie-Christine Dewolf of Hainaut Vigilance Sanitaire (Belgium), one of the project partners and a member of HEAL’s Executive Committee says ‘training in Environmental Health and Medicine will allow healthcare professionals to provide adequate messages of prevention which would lead to the reduction of the burden of chronic diseases. The importance of prevention of environmental related diseases in the practice of the medical professionals, nurses and midwives should therefore be underlined and supported by the competent authorities’.

Last updated on 11 April 2014

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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