Inform Policy

The results from each of HEAL’s five site-based applied research studies will be linked to specific local (and national/regional as applicable) policies and shared in a time frame appropriate for related decision-making.

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There is a need for a powerful new and convincing argument that demonstrates the relationship between ecosystems and health and calls for a change in approaches to policy development, an integration of health and ecosystem management, and coordination of financial investments to better leverage the potential for dual benefits in terms of improved human health and healthy, resilient ecosystems. This argument must be developed for and in partnership with multiple stakeholders in positions to influence relevant policy, program, and financial support decisions.

While scientific findings form the foundation upon which many public health and conservation decisions are made, science alone is not enough. In order to link new and credible scientific knowledge with meaningful action, the information must be relevant to decision-maker stakeholders and shared in a time frame appropriate for related decision-making. That is, the information must be “salient.”  The information must also be considered unbiased, which can be achieved by involving stakeholders with different interests and backgrounds, from multiple levels of decision-making, throughout the research process.

Evidence gathered from each of HEAL’s five country-/region-level research studies linked to specific local policies and actions, together with cross-study analyses leading to general principles that can be more broadly applied, when effectively communicated, will go far towards validating the new argument and developing a new supportive constituency that will grow as new studies and new stakeholders are added. To directly address health equity, HEAL’s research will focus mainly on the health issues impacting remote communities without access to basic healthcare, those people most directly dependent on the goods and services provided by relatively intact ecosystems.

The HEAL program modules have been designed to evaluate what appear to be key linkages at the interface between health and the environment, to better inform policies related to (for example):

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    © Chris Golden

    Access to wildlife and human nutrition: Subsistence hunters’ sustainable access to wildlife and children’s nutritional needs (especially in the first thousand days for cognitive and physical development).

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    Catchment management and waterborne bacterial disease / coral reef health: Upland deforestation and erosion on islands like Fiji and waterborne diarrheal diseases such as typhoid in children, and downstream coral reef health and productivity.

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    Land-use change and malaria: Deforestation patterns and malaria in the Amazon and other major forest systems. 

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    Fire-based land management and cardiopulmonary disease: Fires used to clear land in Sumatra and smoke-related cardiopulmonary illness in the broader downwind Southeast Asian “healthshed”.

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    Marine protected areas and community well-being: Community access to marine protected areas, food security, income to purchase health services, and the psychological dimensions of having a “sense of place” related to secure coastal resource tenure.

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