Education of Built Environment professions vital for health

Issue date: 12 April 2010

Healthy Cities 21st Century An international education network led by the University of the West of England has issued a statement relating to the key links between healthy communities and the physical structure of buildings and cities. The statement has been issued as a result of the first conference of educators teaching the next generation of built environment and public health professionals–the Education Network for Healthier Settlements(ENHS) held in London.

Marcus Grant, Deputy Director of UWE's WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Cities, explains, “The places we live in have a profound impact on our health. Health evidence shows that the physical structure of our towns and cities is contributing to a background of increasing health and social costs.

“The Education Network for Healthier Settlements exists to support better integration of built environment and public health in professional education. The ENHS already has over 75 individual members and a core group of nine Higher Education Institutions.”

The conference, successful in attracting both educators and policy-makers to this important but neglected issue, has issued the following statement:

We believe that the creation of healthy communities is a central aspect of sustainable built environments. To achieve this, we strongly recommend:

  1. ensuring all built environment professionals finish basic training with an understanding of the impact of their professional activities on health, including health equity

  2. ensuring training for all health professionals includes a consideration of the impact of the built environment on health, including health equity

  3. establishing a health-related cross- professional development programme for healthy urban environments

  4. bringing the evidence base from research and practice into the realm of educators and policy- makers in an accessible and relevant form

This statement is directed at the professional organisations and institutes whose members plan, design and develop urban environments, including transport and resource infrastructures and those institutions whose remit is to support public health and reduce health inequality.

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