From asthma and allergies, diabetes and reproductive problems to cancer and obesity, environmental degradation plays a role... HEAL ensures our voices on these issues are heard in Brussels - Matilda Lee, Community Affairs Editor, The Ecologist
Have environmental campaigners been missing a trick? You'd think so speaking to Genon Jensen, executive director of Brussels-based Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). ‘I think we would move a lot quicker and do a lot more on environmental problems if we engaged citizens and the health community on the health side of the issues. That is why I set up HEAL. It's not about saving the planet. It's a question of saving our health. I think the planet will continue to exist, the real question is what kind of quality of life humans will have.'
Founded in 2004, HEAL is an umbrella group of more than 67 citizen, patient, health professional, environmental and women's groups. It works to fill the breach between constituencies ‘back home' and the seemingly vague and far-away supranational government that is actually in charge of critical issues affecting health: the EU.
‘We make sure that when decisions are being made, we bring forward the evidence on why we need to make a certain decision and we allow the grassroots organisations to weigh in,' says Jensen.
She insists that being based in Brussels is an asset when it comes to linking environmental policy to health issues: ‘People might be concerned about the health effects of a certain chemical, but the actual decision on whether or not this chemical will be in household goods is not made by your town's local mayor - it is coming from the EU.' .........
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