The Declaration of Alma Ata (1978) recognized that “people have the right and the duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of their health care”. Additionally, it sought to involve, not only the health sector, but all related sectors, singling out in particular, agriculture, food, industry, education, housing, public works and communications sectors to guarantee the coordinated approach required to promote world health. Population health strategies recognize the importance of multidisciplinary approaches and intersectoral collaboration in addressing environmental health issues and challenges.
Collaboration, however, is impeded and communication becomes ineffective, inefficient and, perhaps, even impossible, when basic environmental health knowledge is lacking among the players. The need to have teachers, scientists, engineers, academics, technicians and others become familiar with the methods of the basic sciences as they relate to environmental health is becoming more important so that meaningful dialogue can happen and healthful environmental practices be set in place. Many citizens are perplexed with the barrage of conflicting messages coming their way on water, food, air and soil; and have difficulty in communicating their concerns, obtaining meaningful advice and in understanding the messages received.
Encourage, support and seek to set in place environmental health literacy strategies, approaches and goals at all levels of the education system so as to equip citizens to meaningfully participate so as to effectively promote sustainable development.