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Chile Confronts its Environmental Health Future After 25 Years of Accelerated Growth

Authors:

Paulina Pino ,

School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
About Paulina
PhD
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Verónica Iglesias,

School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
About Verónica
PhD
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René Garreaud,

Center of Climate and Resilience Research (CR2) and Geophysics Department, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
About René
PhD
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Sandra Cortés,

Department of Public Health, Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University, Santiago, Chile
About Sandra
PhD
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Mauricio Canals,

School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
About Mauricio
PhD
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Walter Folch,

Environmental Health Department, Division of Healthy Public Policy and Advocacy, Subsecretariat of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Santiago, Chile
About Walter
MSc
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Soledad Burgos,

School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
About Soledad
PhD
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Karen Levy,

Environmental Health Department, Rollins School of Public Health University of Emory, Atlanta, GA
About Karen
PhD
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Luke P. Naeher,

College of Public Health, Environmental Health Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
About Luke
PhD
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Kyle Steenland

Environmental Health Department, Rollins School of Public Health University of Emory, Atlanta, GA
About Kyle
PhD
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Abstract

Background

Chile has recently been reclassified by the World Bank from an upper-middle-income country to a high-income country. There has been great progress in the last 20 to 30 years in relation to air and water pollution in Chile. Yet after 25 years of unrestrained growth, there remain clear challenges posed by air and water pollution, as well as climate change.

Objective

The aim of this study was to review environmental health in Chile.

Methods

In late 2013, a 3-day workshop on environmental health was held in Santiago, Chile, bringing together researchers and government policymakers. As a follow-up to that workshop, here we review the progress made in environmental health in the past 20 to 30 years and discuss the challenges of the future. We focus on air and water pollution and climate change, which we believe are among the most important areas of environmental health in Chile.

Results

Air pollution in some cities remains among the highest in the continent. Potable water is generally available, but weak state supervision has led to serious outbreaks of infectious disease and ongoing issues with arsenic exposure in some regions. Climate change modeling in Chile is quite sophisticated, and a number of the impacts of climate change can be reasonably predicted in terms of which areas of the country are most likely to be affected by increased temperature and decreased availability of water, as well as expansion of vector territory. Some health effects, including changes in vector-borne diseases and excess heat mortality, can be predicted. However, there has yet to be an integration of such research with government planning.

Conclusions

Although great progress has been made, currently there are a number of problems. We suspect that the Chilean experience in environmental health may be of some use for other Latin American countries with rapid economic development.

How to Cite: Pino, P., Iglesias, V., Garreaud, R., Cortés, S., Canals, M., Folch, W., Burgos, S., Levy, K., P. Naeher, L. and Steenland, K., 2015. Chile Confronts its Environmental Health Future After 25 Years of Accelerated Growth. Annals of Global Health, 81(3), pp.354–367. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2015.06.008
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Published on 27 Nov 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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