Children's environmental health

Training package for health care providers

Improving the capacity to diagnose, prevent and manage childhood diseases linked to the environment

A growing number of diseases in children from rural and urban areas are linked to unsafe, degraded environments. However, many health care providers are unable to recognize, assess and manage environmentally-related diseases in children.

How should this problem be addressed?

Enabling those “in the front line” - the health professionals dealing with children and adolescent’s health- to recognize and assess diseases linked to, or triggered by environmental factors. Paediatricians, family doctors, nurses, primary and other health care workers should be trained on the relationships between children's health and the environment through the use of harmonized training materials, adaptable to the specific needs of countries and professional groups.

What are the benefits of training health care providers?

  • Increased understanding about the influence of environmental factors on children’s health
  • Improved quality of diagnosis and management of environmentally-related health and developmental effects
  • Capacity to discuss environmental risks with patients, parents, educators and the media
  • Advocacy skills for sensitizing decision-makers about high priority issues for action
  • Enhanced potential for research on children's health

What is the WHO Training Package for Health Care Providers?

A collection of modules with internationally harmonized information and peer-reviewed materials to enable health care workers to be trained, and also to become trainers of their peers and colleagues. The modules include extensive notes and references, case studies and self-evaluation tools, backed up by manuals and guidelines. A selected team of experienced professionals from over 15 countries, the International Paediatric Association (IPA) and selected NGOs are participating in its preparation.

This initiative was made possible thanks to the financial support provided by the US EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection, that also made available useful data, graphics and text for the modules.

What issues are covered?

  • The special vulnerability of children to physical, chemical and biological environmental threats
  • The health and developmental effects of specific chemical, physical and biological hazards (e.g. pesticides, persistent toxic pollutants –POPs- , lead, arsenic, radiation, noise, moulds, other) present in specific settings (e.g. home and surroundings, school, recreation areas, workplace, fields, other)
  • Sources, routes and mechanisms of exposure (contaminants in air, water, food, cosmetics, objects, toys, medical devices, that may be inhaled, ingested or absorbed…)
  • Illustrative case studies.

How are the training programmes organized and by whom?

Training events are organized according to the needs identified by the countries and/or scientific groups concerned and financial resources available. WHO provides technical advice on the contents and methodology. The event may go from a 1-day introductory course to a full 40-hour course that enables to cover the entire contents of the package. WHO and its partners provide the initial training and distribution of materials, some of which are available as informal versions in Spanish, French and Russian thanks to the contribution of partners in different countries.

Training modules and instructions

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