Training in Environmental health to Reduce Chronic Diseases in Latin America

Environmental exposures early in life contribute significantly to some of the most common, chronic non-communicable diseases in children and can have an effect throughout the lifespan. Examples are:

  • Asthma, the most common chronic disease in children is caused or aggravated by environmental factors including indoor allergens, air pollution and tobacco smoke
  • Obesity and diabetes are epidemic in developed countries and are increasing alarmingly in the developing world. Exposures in the built environment related to increasing urbanization contribute to both conditions
  • Exposure to lead and other heavy metals and neurotoxins such as pesticides continue in the developing world and contribute to neurobehavioral effects later in life

Despite the contribution of childhood environmental exposures to the burden of chronic disease, few pediatricians or other health care providers are trained to study, diagnose, treat or prevent disease of environmental origin, particularly in countries such as Latin America.

In response, the Division of International Health of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine was created to:

  • Train health professionals in Latin America to implement research and service programs that identify, treat and prevent chronic disease by identifying environmental exposures in children
  • Create an online reference tool and distance learning program to reach a large number of health professionals in Latin America
  • Train and support key leaders in pediatric environmental health

Mentored research opportunities are offered to Latin American researchers who are trained through the offerings described above. Recipients of the training are selected through partnerships with institutions in Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, and Uruguay.