The Instituto de Saúde Ambiental (ISAMB) is a research centre established by FMUL (July-2013), entirely devoted to Environmental Health. Through funding contract with the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), ISAMB also is a FCT Research Unit.
As a structural FMUL unit, ISAMB has privileged association with the country’s largest university hospital (Hospital de Santa Maria), associated and partner institutions and most hospitals and health centres of the Lisbon Region, which gives it the competitive advantage of a team encompassing a wide array of renowned academics and health professionals.
It is our vision that ISAMB, in the near future, will be an internationally competitive and nationally relevant centre for research, education & training, economic & social innovation and outreach, focused on the complex and closely intertwined relationships between the environment, the impact of human activity upon it, and in turn the influence of environment upon health and wellbeing, aspects that make up the Environmental Health scope.
Guiding Principles and Mission
In simple and operational terms, Environmental Health can be defined as the assessment and management of “modifiable” environmental influences from chemical, physical, biological, social, psychological factors on human health and wellbeing, as well as all behaviours related to the physical, social and cultural environment.
As a science, Environmental Health is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human beings, from the earliest stages of development throughout life. It is often referred to as preventive health since if managed and implemented effectively, Environmental Health can reduce disease burden, increase productivity and reduce the demand on the health services.
Being Environmental Health at the crossroad of environment, society and health, the ISAMB’s mission is to advance excellence in research, education and outreach, to contribute to national and global public health improvement, preventing and reducing the burden of environmentally associated disease and protecting and promoting health and wellbeing, so also contributing to increase productivity and reduce the demand on both health services and the inequalities in exposure and health. Ultimately ISAMB will contribute to the national effort to promote R&D and innovation forwards to 2020 and beyond, and to address current and future Societal Challenges, specifically in Environmental Health issues crosscutting them.
On these days of unparalleled global environmental change and huge social and economic turmoil, advancing knowledge on the relationships between the environment and health and wellbeing has never been more important, not only to prevent disease, but also to know how to take advantage of all the opportunities posed by supportive environments to tackle major health, social and economic problems. Nevertheless, there is a vast gap in critical knowledge and in the education, training, implementation and management of Environmental Health issues, which hinders national and global efforts to reduce and eliminate diseases that might be prevented by better managing environmental factors, or to efficiently explore the natural and built environment in an innovative way for the benefit of the health and wellbeing.
Therefore, to support the ISAMB’s mission while taking into consideration its situation related to both internal (strengths) and external (opportunities) conditions, the ISAMB’s aims for the next years will include:
- Become an internationally-recognised centre of excellence and a relevant hub of knowledge and expertise in Environmental Health;
- Become a relevant and competitive Environmental Health research centre in the country;
- Ensure that the most relevant areas and the complexity of the Environmental Health issues are addressed by the research carried out within the Unit;
- Ensure networking, build partnerships with key stakeholders and foster links with both national and international complementary R&D groups;
- Optimize the FMUL’s resources in education and training and increase the national and international population of Environmental Health students at FMUL;
- Engage with key stakeholders and make the ISAMB’s outputs relevant for their products and services;
- Support the Environmental Health decision process, in the public, private and third sectors, as well as at local, regional and national levels, mainly on the most relevant threats to health and beneficial influences from the environment;
- Enable the ISAMB to compete successfully for research funds and ensure long-term financial sustainability.