‘Environmental medicine’ training for doctors in the making

Health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and others, can in the future obtain a certificate in environmental medicine. During their studies they will receive basic training to this end as well as continuing education in environmental medicine.

To this point there has been little to no training provided concerning the impact of the environment on health. Nevertheless, human health often suffers on account of environmental circumstances. By taking this into account, health professionals can make faster and more accurate diagnoses and certain illnesses can be prevented or treated more efficiently.
Influence of the environment on health
The fact that the environment has an influence on human healthis certain. Where we live, work, exercise and so forth, and whether this is inside or outside has a major impact on our health. We are constantly in contact with substances that have an effect on our health. These substances are of a chemical (particulate matter, formaldehyde, combustion products, et al), biological (moulds, among others) or physical (e.g. noise, moisture, radiation) nature. Together with a great many other factors, the environment is a determining factor for good or poor health. It is thus of great importance that health workers take the environment in which patients dwell into account. And that they recognize health conditions that can entirely or partially be attributed to the environment.
To this point, however, few health workers have been made aware of or trained in environmental medicine or environmental health. But this is going to change in future. Doctors, nurses and other health workers can in future follow basic training and continuing education in environmental medicine and obtain a certificate in environmental medicine. As a result, they can more easily recognize environmentally-related illnesses. A similar certificate already exists in Belgium for tobaccologists. These are officially recognized certificates for Masters of Psychology or health workers who have successfully completed a training course in tobaccology. A similar certificate will therefore be set up for environmental medicine.
National Cell for the Environment – Health
Training health workers in environmental medicine is an initiative from the National Cell for the Environment – Health. This National Cell is a partnership between the federal government, the communities and regions in the field of environment-health. In this way, the various competences in Belgium can cooperate on projects concerning the influence of the environment on health.
Colloquium for universities and university colleges
On 28 January, the National Cell for the Environment – Health organized a colloquium on the training of health workers in environmental medicine and medical environmental sciences. The results of the recent feasibility study were announced at this time. It was also examined, together with the universities and university colleges, how the basic training, continuing education and the certificate can be specifically introduced.