Ministry of Health renews contract for EHI programme

Back row (left to right): Caroline Fyfe, Allan Schori, Carolin Haenfling, Kirstin Lindberg and Agnieszka Kowalik-Tait. Front row (left to right): Rosemary Mwipiko, Helene Marsters, Kylie Mason, Mathu Shanthakumar, Associate Professor Deborah Read and Professor Barry Borman.

The College of Health’s Environmental Health Indicators (EHI) programme, led by Professor Barry Borman, has been granted almost $2 million in funding from the Ministry of Health, to continue investigating links between New Zealand’s environment and the health of Kiwis.

The contract renewal will allow the EHI programme, which started in 2009, to continue research for another three years. Professor Borman says the programme informs and provides statistics on how the environment affects the health of New Zealanders including traditional indicators such as air and water quality. 

The team has created a national hub for environmental health indicators. “This includes monitoring existing and developing new indicators, overseeing the Hazardous Substances Surveillance System that monitors injuries, disease and deaths related to hazardous substances exposure and includes GP notifications of hazardous substances diseases and injuries. Analysis from the programme is used as evidence for policy development and decision making in health-related sectors.”

Major stakeholders in the project are the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment and the Environmental Protection Authority. 

“The focus of the programme is making information useful and relevant for a wide range of users: government departments, district health boards, public health units and local councils. The information is made accessible through factsheets, summary reports, various data visualisations, on the EHI website and the online atlas Healthspace.”

Professor Borman says the contract will also extend their areas of research including: developing EHIs for populations vulnerable to natural hazards, an environmental health profile for children and PAWS (people•animals•wellbeing•surveillance), a recently launched collaboration with Massey’s EpiCentre. 

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills says, “Renewal of the contract is recognition of the outstanding work our EHI team does in monitoring New Zealand’s environmental health. To have a contract renewed multiple times since 2009 is a wonderful achievement and should make the team proud of their work.”

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