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Portuguese Society of Environmental Health - SPSA
The Portuguese Society of Environmental Health (SPSA - Sociedade Portuguesa de Saúde Ambiental) was founded in March 2007 from the desire of professionals interested in health and environment to set a basis for the promotion of environmental health in Portugal. Currently, it has about 75 members (mainly Environmental Health Officers and Public Health Doctors) and undertakes activities such as regulatory consultation, conferences and seminars.
SPSA is a non-profit and non-governmental organization and does not represent any professional body. Our main efforts focus on knowledge production and dissemination, as well as the scientific development of environmental health.
SPSA has sought to establish ties with similar associations (Spain, Latin America and Portuguese-speaking African countries) and was accepted in 2009 as a full member of IFEH – International Federation of Environmental Health.
The primary purposes and objectives of the SPSA are to:
Environmental Health in Portugal
The initial development of environmental health in the country began in the early twentieth century, with the constitution of a public health professional body. The predominant professionals were public health doctors, sanitary engineers and sanitary officers and their main duties were public nuisance inspections and improvement of basic sanitation. These professionals were trained in medical schools and health institutes and their work was based mainly at a local level within the Health Services.
The training of medical and engineering specialization has not changed much over the years as opposed to the technical development of other professionals, particularly Environmental Health Officers (EHO).
EHO initial training (Sanitary Technicians) was conducted at the Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge and could last up to two years (in the 70’s and 80’s). Running of the courses was irregular and based on the needs of these professionals in the country.
The growing training requirements led to the creation in 1990 of the Environmental Health course, a 3-year Bachelor's degree (academic education level), on national Health Technologies High Schools.
Currently the course is held in four public colleges and one private on a 4-year BSc degree - Bologna process .
The EHO is a health professional with a well defined career certified by the Ministry of Health, who also issue the professional licenses. Although the health services at local level remain the largest employers, the range of job opportunities has been extended to other public departments, like councils, Ministry of Environment, Work Safety Agency and also to private companies.
Currently, with the basic sanitary problems being solved, environmental health focuses more on the surveillance and study of environmental factors on the population’s health. Emerging risks such as radiation, pesticides and epidemiological studies have entered the agenda of these professionals.
With the integration of Portugal into the European Union, new regulations were introduced into Portuguese law, bringing a greater demand on environmental health enforcement and regulatory compliance.
Portuguese public agencies in the Environmental Health field
Environmental Health practitioners typical activities
Common duties will vary according to whether the work is in the public service or in a private company, but typical activities may include:
Carlos Lourenço (General Assembly President)
Eduardo Figueiredo (International Relations)
Rogério Nunes (Executive Director)