Bay Area Global Health Seminar

Highlighting the Linkage Between the Environment and Global Health

April 23, 2015  -  More than 100 students, educators and researchers convened Apr. 20 at UC-Davis for a global health seminar featuring scientific experts from leading academic institutions in the Bay Area. The event marked the fourth seminar in the inaugural seminar series of the Bay Area Global Health Consortium, which includes Stanford University, UC-San Francisco, UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley.

Representing a variety of academic disciplines, panelists from each of the four universities offered their perspectives on the linkage between environmental factors as drivers of diseases, and what is needed to address complex health challenges in an ever-changing global environment. James Holland Jones, PhD, associate professor of anthropology and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, was the featured speaker from Stanford (all speaker bios available here).

Moderator Jonna Mazet, professor of epidemiology and disease ecology and director of the One Health Institute at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, challenged the panelists to elaborate on some of the anthropogenic impacts that drive both infectious and non-communicable diseases globally, and what is needed to improve environmental awareness in global health training and application. Following are five key calls to action that emerged from the collective discussion.

Calls to Action:

We need more integration of the social sciences into disease ecology and public health. There’s a lot of research going into understanding disease ecology and infectious diseases, but too often, we’re missing the social scientists in that discussion.

*  We need to rethink our approach to training and education and incorporate more cross-disciplinary opportunities for students. Global health challenges are complex and require a careful consideration of the multi-faceted human and environmental factors when engineering solutions. The next generation cannot stay siloed in patterns of thinking, but rather embrace the movement toward One Health.

*  We need to connect with non-academic partners on the forefront of change. Partnering with non-academic partners like NGOs and community-based organizations can help new science resonate far beyond the university walls and have a greater impact in the community.

*  We need to be more productive in what land we have. With a growing body of evidence revealing that changes in land-use are drivers for emerging disease, we need to make better use of the land we have. Creative and sustainable innovations will be essential to the future of agriculture production and urban development.

*  We need to promote greater environmental health justice and health equity in cities worldwide. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, but a lack of city planning has contributed to the rise of urban slums and with them, greater public health challenges. Tackling these challenges requires evidence-based policy-making and local leaders to inspire change.

Click here to learn more about the Bay Area Global Health Seminar Series and peruse past events.