Environmental health in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Environmental health is the study of how physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person can affect health, and how these natural and built aspects of the environment can be modified or controlled in order to create health-supportive environments.
In recognition of the fact that environmental health issues are often urgent, widespread, and unaddressed, Epicentre launched an inaugural environmental health investigation in 2011, in Lubumbashi, DRC–a region well-known for its cobalt and copper mining operations.
Two pilot studies, examining both health and environmental factors, were conducted in late-2011, and on the basis of these results, a larger-scale study is being planned for 2012. This study will examine the association between various types of environmental pollution and the health status of the populations in residential neighbourhoods in Lubumbashi ; environmental data collection will include air, soil and water sampling, and health status will be assessed by various methods including symptom diaries and pulmonary function testing.
Over the course of the initial phase of this work, Epicentre has established a collaboration with the University of Lubumbashi’s School of Public Health, and has begun to develop a network in environmental health that includes specialists in Europe and the US.