International impetus

The setting up of NEHAP in Belgium takes place in a wider European and international context, in which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has played a pioneering and catalysing role.


Since 1946, before the environment became a political priority, the WHO offered a broad definition of health, as “a state of complete, physical, mental and social wellbeing”. Forty years later, in 1986, in Ottawa, the WHO pointed out that “health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy lifestyles to wellbeing”.


However, we shall have to wait for a few more years before we witness true impetuses.  In 1993, the WHO defined the concept of environmental health… Since 1989, the ministers for Health and the Environment from 52 member states of the WHO Europe have met up every five years to discuss their progress. Thus in 1994, they undertook to draw up the National Environment and Health Action Plans (NEHAPs). In 1999, they debated the issues of water and transport. In June 2004, they passed another milestone by accepting a Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe. This plan should be implemented in each country.