Healthy Environments for Healthy People: Shaping an ecohealth approach
Ottawa, Canada, December 2, 2008 – From tackling avian flu in Asia, to controlling the spread of malaria in Mexico, to protecting the health of Andean communities in Ecuador’s cut flower industry, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is changing how the world thinks about health and the environment.
IDRC and partner organizations will convene policy-makers, researchers, grassroots organizations and journalists from Canada and across the globe at the International Ecohealth Forum 2008 in Mérida, Mexico, December 1-5. Forum participants will share findings on how ecohealth approaches can tackle pressing global issues such as climate change, food security, disease, and economic development.
IDRC partners – including many Canadian researchers – have assumed important leadership roles in this new scientific field, which recognizes the link between humans and their environment; and seeks out development solutions that protect both the health of humans and the fragile ecosystems on which they depend. Over the last decade, IDRC -supported researchers have used ecohealth approaches to improve the health and environments of the world’s most vulnerable people:
• Mexico abandoned the use of DDT to control the scourge of malaria in Oaxaca in just three years, while also sharply reducing infection rates by one-third. DDT spraying was replaced by mosquito breeding site management. The elimination of DDT enabled Mexico to meet its North American Free Trade Agreement obligations ahead of schedule.
• Researchers in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and China are focusing on environmental and agricultural roots of avian flu, such as the role of migratory birds and backyard chicken flocks in its spread. They are also exploring different measures for disease control at the community level;
• As the cut-flower industry in northern Ecuador increasingly turns toward exports, new high-tech farms that use vast amounts of pesticides and water have raised health and environmental concerns. IDRC-supported researchers confirmed that chemicals from floriculture were contaminating the water and affecting children’s neurological development in the Andean communities nearby.
The forum is being organized by the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (INSP) of Mexico, in partnership with IDRC, the International Association for Ecology and Health (IAEH), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil (FIOCRUZ), the Institute of Ecological Research, Brazil (IPê), the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechny of the University of São Paulo, Brazil (USP), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Ecohealth experts from Canada, the United States, and around the world will be available for interviews before and during the forum. For more information, consult http://www.ecohealth2008.org/index.php.
Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the world’s leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For nearly 40 years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.
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