Workshop supporting environment and health impact assessment in Kyrgyzstan

A capacity-building workshop on environment and health impact assessment (EHIA) took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 11–12 October 2017. Co-organized by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany, and the WHO Country Office in Kyrgyzstan, the workshop was designed as a hands-on, interactive event to strengthen national capacity.

Environmental determinants of health are responsible for a substantial burden of disease in many Member States of the WHO European Region, including an annual 1.4 million premature deaths across the Region. Central Asian countries are no exception, with several risk factors that are especially acute in the region (e.g. air pollution, and risk factors related to water and sanitation) and particular vulnerability to certain hazards, such as climate change.

The health sector needs sound data, tools, technical capacities and solid policy arguments in order to assess and respond to environmental threats to health. It is necessary to establish a dialogue not only with the environment sector, but also with others that influence how health determinants are shaped and distributed among the population.

Analytical methods and tools

To support efforts towards these goals, in addition to reviewing current trends and frameworks in environment and health and climate change, participants were led through examples of applying analytical methods using various tools and software packages, including R (a state-of-the-art, freely available software package), Excel-based tools, and AirQ+. Supported by the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, the workshop aimed at enabling participants to undertake local assessments of the measurable health impacts of environmental contamination and climate change-related factors, using a variety of examples.

The workshop mainly targeted officers and practitioners of public health, environmental health and health surveillance, and academia, but also included professionals from other sectors.

Preparation and delivery of the workshop was based on a collection of materials, partly in English and partly in Russian, that were made available to participants via a web-based system. Materials will be further developed, with a view to becoming a permanent resource for further capacity-building on environment and health in the Region and to support distance learning.