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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH IN NORWAY
Norway is part of Scandinavia and has just over 5 million inhabitants. The country has the highest concentration of fjords in the world and is famous for the spectacular scenery. In the northern part of Norway, you can see the midnight sun in the summertime. Between late autumn and early spring, the northern lights can be observed normally above the Arctic Circle.
January 2012 The Norwegian Public Health Act entered into force. The purpose of this Act is to contribute to societal development that promotes public health and reduces social inequalities in health. The Act applies to local authorities, but also to the national government.
The responsibility for public health has been moved from the Health Service sector to the municipality itself -"Health in all policies". The public health work should be systematic. It starts with an overview of the population`s health and determinants of health. The municipalities must do systematic planning based on this. Communicating this to the public is challenging. It is also important to evaluate the results and effects of the work we do.
Environmental health is an important part of this legislation and is composed of the factors in the environment that directly or indirectly influence health at any given time. This includes biological, chemical, physical and social environmental factors.
In Norway, environmental health inspectors have a strong focus on how environmental factors effect especially children and young people, but also the general population. Focus on the environmental impact on children and young people`s health and well-being in kindergarten and school is important for promoting health and preventing diseases and injuries.
Other areas where inspections are taking place are swimming pools for public use, reception, centres for refugees, solariums and many other institutions.
Network for environmental public health - NEMFO
The Norwegian association of Environmental health has changed it`s name from Forum for miljø og helse to Nettverk for miljørettet folkehelsearbeid - NEMFO translated to network for environmental public health. We needed modernization of both our name and logo in tune to the new legislation. Our members are mainly municipalities, but also individuals.
NEMFO organizes an annual conference on environmental and public health in Norway in collaboration with the Ministry of health.
Last year the organization also started a national inspection campaign on indoor climate in our schools. It will be exciting to see what the results are.
NEMFO also publishes a magazine on environmental and public health.
Challenges and priorities
The main challenge in Norway is the children’s environment in nursery schools, kindergartens and schools. Our aim is to make sure the environment is promoting health, well-being and good social conditions, in addition to preventing disease and injury. Many schools are in old buildings, often with poor maintenance. The Norwegian climate, being cold and damp, present even greater challenges to the indoor climate.