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IDRC awards $1M to eco-health research network


Ottawa, ON – Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced today that IDRC is awarding $1 million to a network of Latin American, Caribbean and Canadian researchers to reduce exposure to toxic environmental poisons and improve collective human health in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Nine networks had initially competed for the award in a process lasting more than a year.

Jean Lebel, IDRC’s director of environment and natural resource management, announced the award, at the Health and Environment Ministers’ Meeting of the Americas (HEMA) in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

This network – called a Community of Practice in Ecohealth (COPEH) – involves five academic institutions and three non-governmental organisations in seven countries. The COPEH approach uses transdisciplinary research to bring health and environment concerns into the mainstream of development planning, changing policy and spurring action with a blend of scientific, social and political information.

Network members are:

– Universit du Qubec Montral, Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la biologie, la sant, la socit et l’environnement (CINBIOSE), Canada;

– Instituto de Salud y Trabajo (ISAT), Lima, Peru;

– Fundacion Salud, Ambiente y Desarrollo (FUNSAD), Ecuador;

– Instituto de Biofisica, Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil;

– Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (CEM), Santiago, Chile;

– Centro de Investigacion Enfermedades Infecciosas, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (INSP), Mxico,

– Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentavel, Universidad de Brasilia, Brazil, and;

– Instituto Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Toxicas (IRET), Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.

CIHR organized the peer-review panel that selected the winning proposal out of four research networks, comprising 34 institutions across 14 countries. In late 2004, it chose four of these to refine proposals to compete for the full COPEH grant.

Three other finalists included a network of Canadian, Cuban, Mexican, Chilean and Brazilian groups, proposing to research eco-health in coastal communities. A Canadian, Cuban, Mexican, Brazilian, Ecuadorean, Columbian and US proposal aimed to equip communities to face disasters, vector-borne diseases, and health impacts of global change. And, a network spanning Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay proposed a strategic program to reduce urban wastes’ effects on the environment and human health.

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 more than 30 years, IDRC says it has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world in their search for the means to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.