Friday, August 22, 2014

Health–Earth (H–EARTH): a new coalition for global health

Wellbeing is threatened by human-induced adverse environmental changes on a planetary scale, in a linked eco-social Earth system. These changes are already adversely affecting ecosystems, energy prices, food prices, and the climate. A “sweet spot” has been passed. From here, without major reform, adverse health consequences appear set to increase, reversing earlier gains. We have called this point of inflection "peak health". Rising inequality and poverty are causes and consequences of our imperiled state.

Altered weather patterns secondary to climate change are worsening heatwaves, droughts and floods, while sea level rise in in many delta is accelerated by human-exacerbated subsidence. Air and water pollution are major problems in many parts of the world; global ecotoxicity is under-appreciated. Food production and distribution systems are under pressure, as in some places are social stability, social cohesion, peace and security, undermining peace of mind and other aspects of wellbeing.
But solutions are emerging, such as cleaner energy, smart cities and a reawakening of sharing, include the Sustainable Development Goals. Recognising, assessing, forewarning, minimising and adapting to the risks brought by these issues is vital if global population health is to be improved and populations to endure.
H–EARTH is an interdisciplinary network building knowledge about global change and health for effective responses by policymakers, practitioners and communities. Linked with networks such as HEAL, Healthy-Polis, and The Lancet-Rockefeller Foundation Commission on Planetary Health, the knowledge synthesised by H–EARTH will be used for degrees and short courses, reports, journal articles and books. H-EARTH aims to help awaken the wider health community and the general population to hasten the sustainability transition, with many positive co-benefits for health, the environment and the economy, including in partnership with government, industry, community and advocacy groups using mainstream and social media. Understanding the adverse health consequences of unchecked adverse global environmental change is also important for many other disciplines, professions, and for all faiths.

Our website is soon to be launched at the University of Canberra at the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health. Memoranda of understanding are yet to be signed, but will likely include with Professors Wael Al-Delaimy, at UCSD Division of Global Health San Diego, CA, USA;
Tony Capon, Director United Nations University Institute of Global Health, Trevor Hancock, Professor and Senior Scholar, School of Public Health & Social Policy, University of Victoria, Canada, Jouni Jaakkola Director Centre for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, University of Oulu, Finland, John Potter Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, NZ, Andy Morse , associated with the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, at the University of Liverpool (UK)’s Institute of Infection and Global Health. He is also attached to the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections. The final likely founding member is Prof Sir Harry Burns, at Glasgow, Scotland, UK. He is the professor of global public health and co-director of The Strathclyde Institute of Global Public Health in Glasgow, Scotland. Originally trained as surgeon, he was the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and is known for his strong advocacy for greater social and health justice.

I will occasionally update this blog.


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