Can people remain healthy in a world that is sick? Many ecological disasters can be directly traced to careless exploitation of the environment, with human beings as first perpetrator and then victim. Our health closely mirrors the health of our surroundings: this is the basis of the Ecohealth approach. It recognizes the inextricable links between humans and their biophysical, social, and economic environments, and that these links are reflected in the population’s state of health.
Reconciling an ecosystem’s health with the health of its human inhabitants is a new area of research, requiring input from scientists, community and interest groups, and decision-makers. This book describes this new approach, providing lessons and recommendations from various IDRC-supported research activities. It demonstrates how decision-makers, in particular, can use the Ecohealth approach to formulate policies and solutions that are both immediately visible and sustainable over the long term.
Jean Lebel earned a master’s degree in occupational health sciences and a graduate diploma in industrial hygiene from McGill University in Montréal, as well as a PhD in environmental sciences (1996) from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He is currently team leader of IDRC’s Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health program initiative. As an environmental health specialist, he spent of much of the four years of study leading to his PhD in the Amazon region of Brazil. With a transdisciplinary research team, he studied the effects of low-level contamination, especially by mercury, on human health. In April 2001, he received the first UQAM Prix Reconnaissance from its Faculty of Sciences for the work he “has pioneered by helping developing countries preserve the balance of their ecosystems and protect the health of their citizens.”
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