The idea that the way we live and the environment in which we live influences our health and general well-being has been around since Hippocrates (the founder of modern medicine) first established his medical school on the Greek island of Kos in 600 BC.
Back then, Hippocrates recognised that specific diseases have specific causes; he went on to say that when considering the cause of a person’s illness …
First look at the seasons of the year; for all seasons are not alike! Then consider the winds; those that are universal and those that are particular to each region! Next, consider how well-off the natives are for water; whether they use marshy soft waters or hard waters that come from rocky heights. Next, consider the mode of life of the inhabitants; whether they take lunch, whether they are heavy drinkers, inactive or athletic. Using this evidence, one must examine the several problems that arise. For if the physicians know these things they will not be at a loss in the treatment of diseases or make blunders.
Hippocrates knew a truth that was important way back in history but which still applies today; namely, if we wish to live long, healthy and fulfilling lives we have to manage where we live, the air that we breathe, the food and drink that we consume and the work that we do. This is what the profession of environmental health does!
In the main, environmental health practitioners operate within a local government setting but not exclusively so – a large number work within the private sector and some work for the military and within the third sector. Irrespective of where they practice, environmental health professionals use a range of skills including legal, mediation and persuasion to deliver broad environmental improvements that, in turn, influence personal and societal health and well-being.
By Tony Lewis, Professional Services Director at RHE Global