At the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health (EcoHealth) 2014 I was met by an enormous wealth of knowledge through wonderful oral presentations, posters, and especially discussion with peers, mentors, and well, frankly academic celebrities. I presented a poster describing my research to date on The burden of acute gastrointestinal illness for Inuit in Iqaluit, Nunavut in an incredibly active poster session with much interest and many questions! From presentations on Lung function decline in rural women using fuel for wood cooking in Mexico to Health risk assessment of water sold in plastic bags in the city of Abidjan in Cote D’Ivoire- I was incredibly impressed with the breadth of EcoHealth applications in research. There were two sessions throughout the fantastic conference that stood above the rest. The first was a Plenary Panel with Emerging scholars and practitioners particularly Melanie Lemire from the University of Laval and her vision for the future in the north. A piece of her discussion highlighted the need to look critically at research in communities in the north – what do our role(s) as researchers become in those communities with enough research to create change in policy etc.? The second session that stood out was a poster-driven session including Exploring the health and wellbeing experiences in accessing nature within an urban healthcare setting by Rona Weerasuriya of Australia. I was reminded of a project that I once dreamed of creating in a rural community when I was around 15 years old, a project that would encourage community members to seek regular primary care by creating an environment that people would come to whether they were healthy or sick – such as a garden, or a café open to both the public and the patients as a waiting room. The project that Weerasuriya was assessing is a fantastic example of how this sort of thing could work – it was profoundly moving to see applications of EcoHealth in an unexpected way – simply looking at the bigger picture, and creating unity between and beyond disciplines really can be applied in a phenomenal array of situations. I left the conference thinking and dreaming – and I think that is the best kind of learning, the kind that expands your worldview.
Poster Reference: McDonald, M.E., Harper, S.L., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Thomas, M.K., IHACC Research Team, & Papadopoulos, A. (2014, August). The burden of acute gastrointestinal illness for Inuit in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Poster session presented at the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health (EcoHealth 2014) at the Université du Québec à Montréal Montreal, Quebec, Canada.