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Montreal forum to feature researchers from developing countries

Ottawa, ON April 14, 2003 The International Forum on Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health, to be held at the Universit du Qubec Montral (UQAM), May 18 to 23, 2003, will welcome many scientists from developing countries. They will present the results of their innovative research in the field of ecohealth.

More than 100 developing-country scientists will present their research and findings. Here are a few examples:

Ligia Noronha, an economist with the Tata Energy Research Institute in India, will describe efforts to reduce the negative impact that mining activity is having on people’s health and that of the environment in the State of Goa. She and her research team have developed measurement tools that will allow local communities, the various levels of government, and mining companies to assess the well-being of people in this region, and that of their surroundings. Her team is composed of experts in various fields: economics, biology, biochemistry, ecogeology, political science, health statistics, and social sciences. Dr Noronha will give her presentation on Monday, May 19.

Clifford Mutero, a medical entomologist, will describe his research to control malaria in the rice-growing area of Mwea, Kenya, a region of some 13,640 hectares that is home to about 3000 families. More than half of this area is devoted to growing rice. Some 20 percent of the population suffers from malaria. The research team led by Dr Mutero has examined the complexity of the factors that influence the transmission of malaria, focusing not only on health problems, but also on poverty, social condition, and tensions within the region. As coordinator for the Systemwide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture (SIMA), Dr Mutero will talk about a series of integrated interventions for managing the agricultural ecosystem in ways that will put an end to malaria. Dr Mutero will give his presentation on May 20.

Mariano Bonet, a physician and deputy director of Cuba’s National Institute for Hygiene, Epidemiology, and Microbiology (INHEM), will talk about the revitalization of the historic area of inner city Havana, Centro Habana. More than half of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood do not have access to safe drinking water. Communicable diseases like tuberculosis have been rising steadily, as have sexually-transmitted diseases. However, they have a very strong sense of community spirit. Thanks to their collaboration and the work of a team of researchers, Centro Habana is turning things around. The team, composed of physicians, a sociologist, a psychologist, an economist, several engineers and an architect, has been working with the residents to find integrated solutions that will take into account all the factors that impinge on the health of Centro Habana and its inhabitants. There has already been a noticeable improvement in the health of teenagers, adult men, and the elderly, particularly elderly women. Dr Bonet will give his presentation on May 21.

Organized by International Development Research Centre, the forum enjoys the support of several partners, including the Universit du Qubec Montral and its Institut des sciences de l’environnement, the Qubec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Montral Biodme, Environment Canada, Health Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Health Organization, the Ford Foundation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Foundation, the International Society for Ecosystem Health, and the Pan American Health Organization.