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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH IN SLOVENIA
Line of separation between public health and environmental health is difficult to draw in Slovenia because both areas were and are still strongly combined also on the institutional level.
Environmental Health in Slovenia is at the moment under the responsibility of 3 Ministries: i) Ministry of Health, ii) Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, iii) Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Food. Although different professionals are working in the field of environmental health Sanitary engineer will be presented in detail together with Chamber of Sanitary Engineers of Slovenia as their professional association and Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Ljubljana as an Academic Associate member of IFEH providing the study programme of Sanitary engineering.
Sanitary engineer as a professional overriding public health and environmental health area
Sanitary Engineer has traditionally been established mainly in the S and SE Europe. Sanitary engineering is a common name in the area of former Yugoslavia for experts who have the basic knowledge of engineering and medical sciences. Sanitary Engineer in Slovenia is primarily a health professional, who works in the field of environmental health together with other professionals although with unique knowledge and skills for solving hygienic, technical and ecological problems in the internal and external environment. He is especially trained to deal with hygiene problems in facilities, processes and activities that are important for maintaining a healthy living environment. At their work Sanitary engineers are able to think medically but often applying engineering approach for solving situations identified as harmful to human health. Sanitary engineers have an advantage in comparison to others since their knowledge encompass not only technical aspects of given environmental problem but also ecological and health aspects. One of their skills is multidisciplinary approach aiming at the identification of environmental problems, assessment of environmental health hazards and risks to environment and human health as well as searching for solutions which lead towards reduction of the adverse effects of the environmental pollution. Sanitary engineer has professional competence to work especially in the field of safety and quality of food, drinking water and other goods used by general public; environmental quality management and control; environmental epidemiology; occupational safety; food and environmental control; independent management of enterprises and institutions in the field of public and environmental health; research and teaching in environmental and public health. Sanitary engineer in Slovenia was formed according to the guidelines of WHO and it has, during the last decades, developed into an important professional profile overriding the public health and environmental health area.
The education milestones of sanitary professionals in Slovenia
Due to the specificity of the country the study programme was always dynamic and it tried to follow changes in demands of the profession as well as those in the social and economic system. The education of sanitary professionals at the undergraduate level in Slovenia began in 1964, initially as a two year post-secondary programme. The tendency to build on expert knowledge, fundamental and applied research in the field of sanitary engineering have dictated the last improvements in 2009. Today the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana conducts a four-year university study program “First Level Degree”, and also “Second Level Degree”, leading to the acquisition of a Master.
Sanitary engineering operates across a wide range of preventive health activities. The content of current study programme at first level is designed to give students basic knowledge of science, which is applied in the area of profession. It incorporates ethical, social and legal frameworks in relation to health and the environment. The health content incorporates basic operation of the human body, taking note of the management of biological, chemical and physical agents, the epidemiology of infectious and non-infectious diseases and hygiene, all of which build on the engineering skills to serve in the preparation of technical and technological solutions for environmental and health problems. Master study programme is a continuation of the university study program at first level. The content of the study is designed to qualify future graduate mainly in the field of risk assessment, risk management and research methods, which are then applied in the specific case in the context of elective courses and Master thesis.
Chamber of Sanitary Engineers of Slovenia
Today majority of sanitary professionals is associated under the Chamber of Sanitary engineers of Slovenia. The Chamber was formed in 3rd of July 1993 in Ljubljana as an independent professional organization of the sanitary engineers who perform their occupation on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia and EU. Chamber represents and protects the interests of its members and their reputation and it is the only kind of independent association established in EU to connect all aspects of sanitary engineering in one institution.
It’s primary mission is to take care for the harmonious development of the profession. Chamber participates in the planning and design of undergraduate and postgraduate educational study programme and supplementary education. Chamber participates also in the preparation of legislation, strategic documents, staff development and other professional guidance in the field related to sanitary engineering.
Part of the Chamber is among others also a research institution called “Institute of Food Safety and Environmental Health” (www.institut-isi.si) registered in the year 2001 as a research Institute at Ministry of higher education, science and technology of the Republic of Slovenia. The Institute's primary activities are in the field of microbiological and chemical research, food safety, ecology and environmental protection, education and publishing, design of technologies in food production and ventilation systems, health and safety at work, fire safety, building physics, setting up international standards.
Chamber and Institute are publishing professional books in native language and International Journal of Sanitary Engineering Research (IJSER, http:/journal.institut-isi.si). IJSER presents platform for broad interdisciplinary information about the practice and status of research in environmental, food and occupational hygiene, epidemiology, the environmental engineering science, systems engineering, and sanitation.
OVCA, Andrej, FERFILA, Nevenka, POLJŠAK, Borut, SLABE, Damjan, JEREB, Gregor (2011). Renovation of sanitary engineering study programme. In: Educational leadership, (Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2011, 838-842, doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.03.195
FERFILA, Nevenka, LIKAR, Kristina (2005). Experience in education of Sanitary engineers in Slovenia.
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Sanitary engineering
Chamber of Sanitary Engineers of Slovenia