Environmental Health Indicator (EHI) is defined as one that provides data
on environmental quality and its impact on public health (PAHO, 2000).
It is a measure of health, environmental quality, or sociodemographics
which is important for monitoring the overall health of the population.
They provide information about a population's health status with respect
to environmental factors, and can be used to assess health or a factor
associated with health in a specified population through direct or indirect
measures. They may be used to assess baseline status and trends, track
program goals and objectives, and build core surveillance capacity in
state and local agencies.
The best indicators are those that reliably predict the relationship between
human health and the environment, are routinely collected, and have well-accepted
definitions and data collection standards. Indicators may be particularly
useful when clear measurable links are not available. As such, they can
measure health or a factor associated with health in a specific population.
Environmental health indicators can be effective tools for understanding
environmental health in specific geographic areas. They can help raise
awareness of environmental health and inform policy making. Their creation
will help to fill gaps between information on environment and information
on health, putting into focus special vulnerabilities in order to help
guide environmental, health, and development policy.
Models or frameworks of our comprehension of, for example, the link between
water quality and human health, often represent the components in a linear
fashion to more clearly articulate causal connections. With the understanding
that the situation is often more complex in reality, models provides a
framework for the organization and development of indicators at various
points along the chain (Kjellstrom and Corvalan, 1996). One of the most
recognized of these "frameworks" of understanding is that of
the "Pressure - State - Response" model developed by the Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A model developed at
the World Health Organization took a broader approach to include macro
driving forces in the pressures on health and the environment. The model
was called the "Driving Forces-Pressures-State-Exposure-Effects-Action
(DPSEEA) framework". The DPSEAA model is useful as it covers the
full spectrum of potential forces and resulting actions and brings together
professionals, practitioners, and managers from both environmental and
public health fields to help orient them in the larger scheme of the problem.
The DPSEEA model has been adopted by the Ciudad Juarez Workshop in June,
The Driving Forces, Pressure, State, Exposure, Effect, Action (DPSEEA)
model of WHO (WHO, 1999:5)
has held bi-national regional Environmental Health Indicator workshops
in El Paso Texas, McAllen Texas, Tijuana Baja California and San Diego
California, with representation from both sides of the border. A workshop
in Arizona - Sonora is to be held September 21 - 23, 2005