Setting objectives for national environmental health action plans

Defining objectives for NEHAPs
Environment-related health risks occur in many different sectors and are dealt with by a variety of authorities and organizations. It is therefore essential to obtain an overall picture of this aspect of environmental and public health and agree on appropriate country-level inter-agency and cross-sectorial objectives.
An explicit statement of the objectives to be attained sets the scene for actions proposed in a National Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP). Without a clear statement of objectives it would be difficult for readers to assess the relevance and effectiveness of any actions proposed and few readers could be expected to have access to statements contained in other documents. If objectives are not drawn from an accepted source each may need to be justified in its own right.

As a NEHAP is a tool to achieve policy objectives for a country there may be advantage in explicitly setting out those objectives which especially require a longer time scale than the NEHAP can sensibly cover. To some extent, the objectives may be aspirational, as expressed for instance in the commitment to sustainable development or more practically in the WHO Health for All Targets. The NEHAP can then be seen and judged as a step towards the longer term aims.

In European countries where NEHAPs have been piloted, those drafting the NEHAP have broadly accepted the objectives set out in the Evironmental Health Action Plan for Europe (EHAPE). However, one country has based its objectives on earlier national objectives which it has reassessed and updated for its NEHAP.

Some countries may consider that they should confine their plan to dealing with national objectives which may be different or more limited than those in the World Health Organisation "Health For All (HFA)" or EHAPE format. This may entail more work than it avoids as the objectives may have to be justified in their own right and would inevitably be compared with those in the HFA or EHAPE. However, a national approach to setting objectives could have advantages in terms of dealing with national organisations, especially for countries with less centralised forms of government.

NEHAPs have proved to be useful in achieving such political objectives as: (a) reforms related to the transition to a market economy; (b) social reforms, deregulation and decentralization; (c) European integration; (d) transforming economic sectors according to the principles of sustainable development; and (e) implementing international commitments, such as environmental conventions.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 15: Life on Land