PAHO: Advocating for ecohealth

May 10, 2011
Ecosystems and Human Health
Ecohealth is “breaking new ground,” said Dr Carlos Corvalan. At the International EcoHealth Forum (IEF 2008), Dr Corvalan said it was “great to see how ecohealth has grown in a short time.”

“There is agreement that [humanity is] not on a sustainable path,” and “through the work of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and this conference, we have been putting this high on the international agenda,” said Dr Corvalan.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has a specific role to play in the future of ecohealth, particularly in linking environment and health issues. “PAHO works with the ministries of health in various countries,” Dr Corvalan said. “When we have an emerging issue, PAHO has an important role in making sure it’s understood by our counterparts in the ministries of health.” For instance, PAHO was very successful in advocating for the science of climate change.

For Dr Corvalan, ecohealth “is turning into a movement.” There is “interest in research communities as well as in the government to start addressing these issues of public health.”

At the next Forum (London 2010), to further advance PAHO’s mandate, more decision makers must be present “to observe what we are finding out .. . all over the world in this field.” Policy makers are key players for turning research into action.

“The Forum was really fulfilling,” Dr Corvalan said. “I work now in Brazil, and I can see how engaged the government is.” For him, a message from the Forum was “that we’ve been investing right.”

Dr Carlos Corvalan
Sustainable Development and Environmental Health, Pan American Health Organisation

Pan American Health Organization
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment