How to report on environmental health inequalities? WHO gathers experts to develop and pilot a national assessment tool. Bonn, Germany, 25-26 October 2010

Social determinants have a significant influence on health. Still, there is a fundamental lack of knowledge on the magnitude as well as on the distribution of socially determined environmental inequalities in almost all countries of the WHO European Region. The work presented at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health (Parma, Italy, March 2010) identified the lack of national data and monitoring systems as one of the main reasons leading to weak evidence.

The Declaration of the Parma Conference recognizes an increased profile of social and environmental inequalities as a future challenge for environment and health in Europe.

The first meeting of a bigger project

As of today, few countries can provide a national report or priority list on environmental inequalities, and few carry out specific surveys or monitoring exercises to identify dimensions of social disadvantage in relation to environmental risk factors. National approaches are not standardized, restricting international comparison.

This meeting is part of a WHO/Europe project to develop tools enabling the assessment of the magnitude of environmental inequalities on national scale, and directly contributes to the implementation of the Parma Declaration.

To support policy-makers in developing adequate policies and actions to reduce environmental health inequalities, the first step is to make available standardized evidence and national data on existing inequalities as the basis for setting priorities for action and identifying the most affected groups.

This meeting will discuss and agree on a set of environmental health risk factors to be included in a data collection protocol, and develop this protocol based on the data selected. The protocol will be tested for feasibility in further stages of the project.