Current systems for monitoring climate change, e.g. local air pollutants and ground-level ultraviolet radiation, need to be expanded and strengthened to include human health indicators with environmental indicators.
The identification, development, standardization, evaluation and broad use of systems for monitoring and assessing changes in environmental indicators, bio-indicators of health risk and impacts on health as well as indicators of population health status. These systems must be coordinated with global monitoring activities.
Environmental health is emerging as a general term which incorporates human health factors with the health factors (state) of the natural environment as it responds to climate change. Environmental health covers human, plant and animal health, and can be extended to include all factors which make up the living ecosystem, of which the human species is one part.
Bio-indicators of health risk need to be developed to detect early or unanticipated health impacts of climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion. For example, the monitoring of vector species can be strengthened in order to detect early changes in their distribution associated with climate change.
Recommendation C from the World Health Organization working group for the London WHO Health and Environment Conference (June 1999) supports the identification, development, standardization, evaluation and broad use of systems for monitoring and assessing changes in environmental indicators, bio-indicators of health risk and impacts on health, and indicators of population health status across Europe. These systems must be coordinated with global monitoring activities.
Article 12(b) of the 1999 Draft Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, states: Parties shall promote cooperation in international action relating to: The development of indicators to show how far action on water-related disease has been successful in preventing, controlling and reducing such disease.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, several health status indicators have changed significantly, especially in the parts of Europe undergoing the most rapid economic and political restructuring. A complex relationship between social, economic, lifestyle and health care factors has played a dominant role in determining these trends. The available health data do not clearly indicate the health effects of physical, chemical and microbial factors in the environment. Nevertheless, the inequality in health between the various social strata is often correlated with environmental conditions, and the widespread exposure to hazardous factors justifies the concern that environmental factors contribute to the inequality in health.