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The HEAL team believes that there are important public health impacts associated with changes in the state of different ecosystems and that frequently, degradation of these ecosystems leads to negative public health impacts. Unless, however, these impacts are proven and quantified in actionable ways, they remain vague externalities that are not factored into decisions about public health or natural resource management.

HEAL’s site-based work will be embedded in a program-wide learning structure that will ensure the development of evidence-based and policy-relevant conclusions concerning the relationships between public health and ecosystem alteration. HEAL researchers will work collaboratively to effectively translate the evidence into a convincing argument to share with additional stakeholders in positions to influence support for collaborative conservation/public health investment.

HEAL’s ultimate goal is to increase support for integrated public health and environmental conservation initiatives as intimately related, interdependent challenges. Such an innovative, cross-sectoral attitudinal change will help to improve public health outcomes, equity and resilience for some of the world’s poorest people, living in the world’s most remote areas, while simultaneously conserving some of the most important natural landscapes and seascapes left on earth.

The HEAL program modules have been designed to evaluate what appear to be key linkages at the interface between health and the environment and to thus enable science-based action regarding (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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