Guidelines for environmental health management in children's homes in sub-Sahara Africa

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2007 Dec;4(4):319-31. doi: 10.3390/ijerph200704040008.


The field of environmental health focuses on the relationships between human health and well being and the influence of the physical, social and societal environments. Our understanding of the environment-health interface has progressed because of two relatively recent insights: First, the recognition that the unprecedented environmental changes of the last half-century are affecting global population health. Secondly, the recognition that children have greater vulnerability to environmental hazards and are inadequately protected by current regulatory standards. Efforts to redress this situation have shaped the current thrust in environmental health research toward preventing further harm to children's health. The disproportionate vulnerability of children to environmental hazards can be explained by several reasons. Children are not "little adults." It is known that children have greater risk of exposure and greater risk of harm compared to adults for many reasons that are unique to each developmental stage. Their behaviour and activity patterns bring them into greater contact with toxins. Children have important biological differences. Immature developing organs and tissues are more vulnerable to harm from toxic exposures. Immature metabolic and physiological systems less effectively protect the child from toxic exposure and effects. In addition, children have additional pathways of exposure that are not applicable to adults, e.g., in utero, via breast milk and via products such as toys, clothing, etc. Children also have a longer "shelf life." They have much more of their life ahead of them during which time they will be exposed and may develop health problems as a result. Finally, children are more often involuntarily exposed and unable to avoid exposures of their own accord [1]. Due to the AIDS catastrophe in Sub- Saharan Africa, the numbers of children in difficult circumstances have increased. To mitigate the effects of the catastrophe, charitable organizations have sprung up to establish homes for such children, especially those orphaned by AIDS or those infected with HIV. It is important to ensure that environmental health hazards and risks are minimized in these children's homes. By use of a conceptual synthesis approach, the authors attempt to generate guidelines from literature for environmental health management in children's homes in sub-Saharan Africa.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Crowding
  • Environmental Health*
  • Fires / prevention & control
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Household Work
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pest Control
  • Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control
  • Vaccination
  • Waste Management
  • Water Supply


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution