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Environmental Health Indicators: Bridging the Chasm of Public Health and the Environment, Workshop Summary
that we should not ignore simply because we lack evidence of strong linkages.
Wilson also posited that one activity might be to convene working groups to hammer out communications issues, the definition of terms, and goals. Henry suggested that the Department of Health and Human Services convene a commission to address the needs of a broadly conceived public health surveillance system. The commission’s purpose would be to promote broad support for the concept and increase public understanding of its purpose.
The nation has reached a pivotal time for establishing a national monitoring system. The Pew Commission report of 2000 (Pew Environmental Health Commission, 2000b) was instrumental in planting the idea. About a year was needed for the concept to become known and accepted by health agencies, the government, and the public. Currently, efforts to develop the national monitoring system have begun, and support for the concept is growing slowly in many quarters. A surge in acceptance could bring a new set of concerns. Once legislation has been passed and the initiative has been funded, the monitoring process will be largely out of the control of environmental health experts. The workshop presentations made it clear that now is the time for environmental health experts to contribute to the understanding of appropriate indicators.