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Spotlight on Scotland
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Although relatively small, Scotland is a land rich in contrasts and a very popular tourist destination.  Vibrant cities contain ancient castles and monuments, while within easy reach are sandy beaches, country parks, and outstanding nature reserves.  The country is very accessible and within an hour’s travel the landscape can change from gentle rolling hills to rugged coasts and dramatic, towering peaks.   

The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) was established in 1983 following the merger of the Royal Sanitary Association of Scotland (founded 1875) and the Scottish Institute of Environmental Health (founded 1891).  These parent organisations were founded at a time where public health concerns in Scotland included unsatisfactory sanitary conditions, pollution of water supplies, unhealthy and overcrowded housing, unsafe food suppliers, urban air pollution and unsafe conditions in the workplace.  

REHIS has around 1,000 members including members working across all 32 Scottish local authorities, the private sector and with our partner agencies: Food Standards Agency, Health Protection Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  The affairs of REHIS are managed by the Council, which is elected annually from the membership.  The Council consists of 27 members from across Scotland.  In 2001 REHIS was granted a Royal Charter which requires the Institute to work for the benefit of the community, to promote the advancement of environmental health.  

One of the aims of REHIS is to promote the advancement of environmental health through training.  REHIS manages and maintains a Scheme of Continuing Professional Development for members; awards the qualifications required for Environmental Health Officers and Food Safety Officers to practice in Scotland; as well as being the awarding body for a range of community training qualifications.  Throughout the year up-date training events and seminars are organised on a wide range of environmental health subjects.   

In the past year much work has been carried out with academic institutions and we have accredited two new Masters level degree courses in environmental health in addition to the long established undergraduate BSc (Hons) Environmental Health course at the University of Strathclyde.  These qualifications enable students to gain the academic knowledge necessary to access the REHIS scheme of practical training for student/graduate trainee EHOs.  It is following both academic study and practical training that a student is eligible to apply for the REHIS Professional Examination, after which, if successful, the student/graduate trainee is presented with the REHIS Diploma in Environmental Health.  REHIS is continually reviewing and up-dating the schemes of practical training for Environmental Health Officers and trainee Food Safety Officers.

In 2003 REHIS’s Royal Charter was amended so that EHO members who meet the Institute’s requirements can be designated as Chartered Environmental Health Officers.  Chartered status is the highest possible professional status; it is aspired to by many professions and is difficult to achieve.  

REHIS believes that the provision of community training courses is one of the most effective ways to use limited resources to improve public health, through education and training.  The courses are delivered by over 500 REHIS Approved Training Centres and last year REHIS awarded over 40,500 certificates.   The content of each course is developed by REHIS with subjects including Food Safety and Occupational Health and Safety.  Last year saw the introduction of the REHIS Elementary Food and Health Course.  This course, developed in connection with partner agencies, explores the relationship between food and health and is designed to provide nutritional information to people working in a wide range of catering outlets. 

Connections Abroad 
REHIS continues to work with the African Republic of Malawi where the historic connection goes back over 150 years ago to the time of the explorer David Livingstone.  REHIS has close ties with the Environmental Health Officers’ Association of Malawi which was recently re-established and is again flourishing.  The University of Strathclyde and the University of Malawi have been working together for over ten years to transfer knowledge between the two institutions.  The University of Strathclyde offers students the opportunity to spend a summer in Malawi working on environmental health research for their final-year dissertations.  

Last year REHIS signed a ‘twinning’ agreement with the Association of Public Health Inspectors of Cyprus.  This agreement follows a long standing informal friendship between the two organisations.  It is anticipated that this link will lead to closer co-operation on European environmental health matters.  We were delighted that five Cypriot representatives were able to join us at last year’s Annual Conference.  It was at this Conference, in November that five new Honorary Vice-Presidents were appointed including George Georgallas, Association of Public Health Inspectors, Cyprus; and Ann Marie Part, EHOA, Republic of Ireland.    

Environmental Health in Scotland 
The 21st century now poses different challenges for Environmental Health Officers in Scotland.  Despite being a fairly affluent country, Scotland still has one of the poorest health records in Europe.  

Since the development of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and consequently the Scottish Executive, joint working in Scotland has never been better.  Over the past few years REHIS has worked closely with the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Executive, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and with other stakeholders to ensure that environmental health issues are placed on the public agenda.  REHIS plays a significant role in forming and implementing policy and legislation and its representatives sit on ministerial working groups and cross-party groups for Asthma, Cancer, Food and Tobacco.  

Environmental Health Officers have been at the forefront of enforcing many new agendas including Public Health, Tobacco Control, Antisocial Behaviour, Sustainable Development and Community Planning.  Most notably the recent Smoke-free legislation has been a major step in improving public health in Scotland.  EHOs operate at a local level within the community and work with partners to ensure that environmental justice becomes a reality.  

DPD/Jennifer/007 - IFEH – EH in Scotland