Reports on Health and the Environment

Bring Back DDT?

There are many interesting means by which humankind acts to ravage biodiversity.The following example is taken from a recent book "The climate change challenge and the failure of democracy", Shearman and Smith, Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, London

"...the arrival and spread in the United States of the West Nile virus will be described. This virus is normally confined to parts of Asia and Africa. Mosquitoes transmit the virus from birds to humans, resulting in encephalitis, an often fatal inflammation of the brain. In the summer of 1999 birds at the Bronx Zoo in New York died inexplicably. Then humans began to die from encephalitis. The diagnosis of the problem was very slow because Ronald Reagan, believing in small government, had severely reduced funding of the public health service and it had never recovered. However when it was realized that West Nile virus had succeeded in evading the U.S. quarantine service, there was official panic in New York City Hall.

Breast Cancer and DDT, implications for malaria treatment

A recent paper in Environmental Health Perspectives by Cohn, BA, MS Wolff, PM Cirillo and RI Sholtz.2007. DDT and breast cancer in young women, provides important new data on the significance of age at exposure.

This was a prospective study of blood from young women that was collected between 1959 and 1967 and stored by freezing, combined with an analysis of their current medical records. The median time to diagnosis of breast cancer after the sample was taken of 17 years.

In summary it shows that women who are exposed to relatively high levels of DDT before mid-adolescence are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer later in life than women with lower exposures. Exposure after adolescence does not increase risk.

The Broad Street Pump Ethos is Alive in Tasmania

These excerpts are taken from the Journal of Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors, volume 3, number 3, 2007
.”Risk Awareness and Incident Response Capability in Water Catchments in North Eastern Tasmania, Australia
- A Community Based Audit” and

Nanotechnology: How Green Can It Be?

This article is reproduced here to remind members that recently we have posted a draft policy on nanotechnology on  under Policy. We thank ENS for pemission to publish

WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2007 (ENS) – The ability to use nanotechnology to reduce pollution, conserve resources and build a "clean" economy now exists, finds a new report "Green Nanotechnology: It's Easier Than You Think." But environmentalists are at odds about how green nanotechnology can be. Not all nanoparticles are harmful to human health and the environment, but some are. Nanotech critics fear that without government oversight the industry may release harmful particles into the air and water.

What is happening at the World Health Organization? The coming election of the WHO Director-General

By Vicente Navarro
23 October 2006
Vicente Navarro is Professor of Health and Public Policy, School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University; Director of the Public and Social Policy Program, Pompeu Fabra University – The Johns Hopkins University; Founder and Past President of the International Association of Health Policy; and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Health Services.

From World War II until the early 1980s, the World Health Organization was an important point of reference for those in the international community who were concerned with the health and well-being of populations. During the postwar period, the WHO subscribed to the dominant consensus in the international community that government and the public sector were responsible for guiding economic and social activities and correcting the social inequalities created by unrestrained market forces. This active role of the public sector led to establishment of the welfare states in the developed countries and to the planting of seeds for breaking with underdevelopment in the countries of the developing world. As a consequence of these public policies, the populations of both developing and developed countries experienced significant improvements in health and social conditions. The high point of the WHO of those years was the approval by the World Health Assembly of the Alma-Ata Declaration,1 which stated that health required a public health approach, much broader than medical care interventions. This declaration was followed by many specific proposals that emphasized the social, economic, and political determinants of health. Needless to say, some of these proposals had their problems, but the approval of the Alma-Ata Declaration was a major step toward redefining the health interventions that are needed to improve the health and social conditions of populations. And in many countries, those improvements did indeed occur.2

Towards Global Health Equity

Towards Global Health Equity
by Colin Butler, member of the Management Committee DEA

For three days in September (19-21) I attended a workshop at Flinders University, organised by the South Australian Community Health Research Unit, and presented by Professor Ron Labonté, who is from the University of Ottawa. Ron is acknowledged as a world authority on globalisation and health, and is a penetrating critic of many of the arguments used by market enthusiasts.

Globalisation, of course, is not new, but its scale and rate has accelerated in recent decades. This is evident in myriad ways, such as the speed of travel, the ease of communication, and the increasingly global nature of trade, ideas, media, weaponisation, and environmental change. However, the most recent phase of globalisation – that which John Gray calls “wild globalisation” has been characterised by the selective dismantling of trade barriers and by an increased polarisation between rich and poor, both within many nations and between rich and poor populations worldwide.

BODHI: a buddhist influenced NGO

What do the Dalai Lama, Senator Bob Brown, nomads in Tibet, climate change, social justice and the health of former untouchables in India have in common? All these people and issues have been and are central to our charitable but secular NGO, Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health and Insight, or BODHI for short. Let me explain.

When I was young, my mother and I both suffered from asthma. This was in the 1950s, and treatment was not so good. Apparently, one day, I announced to my father that in the future I might find a cure for asthma in a cave. I'm not claiming that that is any evidence for reincarnation, but it is true that from a young age I tool an unusual interest in Buddhism. As well, perhaps because I was usually the smallest boy in the class, I also developed a strong empathy with the underdog.

Please help with the project Prescription for a Healthy Planet

This is a request to DEA members and to all practicing doctors in Australia to enrole for the project "Prescription for a Healthy Planet". This will involve the placement of posters on the health aspects of climate change and biodiverity in waiting rooms.

Many members of DEA have expressed the wish to participate in DEA activities. We need your help with this project by displaying posters in your waiting room.

You can elect to receive only one of the two posters, or the posters without the brochures, whichever you wish. Please also spread the word amongst your colleagues. Once the posters are finalised we will send out an email that you can forward on to your own networks if able.

Cycle for Sustainability completed

In July 2005 two DEA members Michelle Allen and Nick Towle left Brisbane on an epic cycle journey down the east Coast of Australia, taking education for sustainability to schools and community members between Brisbane and Hobart, where the journey finished in mid December. The early part of this journey was reported on this page below. The report is from Nick Towle, member of the Management Committee, DEA.

Our aim was to promote sustainable ways of living to as many people as possible. Throughout our journey we carried Gandhi's philosophy of 'be the change you wish to see in the world' and drew much inspiration from The Otesha Project, a Canadian team undertaking similar projects (Otesha - Swahili for 'reason to dream'). In total we rode approximately 4800km, presenting and performing our comical theatre to over 3000 school students. It was most inspiring to spend time with young people after our presentations to hear about their own endeavors, small meaningful actions such as creating a recycling campaign in their school or making compost in their back yard.

WHO links Ecosystem Injury to Human Health Problems

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2005 (ENS) - Sixty percent of the benefits that the global ecosystem provides to support life on Earth - fresh water, clean air, abundant wildlife and a relatively stable climate - are being degraded or used unsustainably with negative effects on human health, finds a new report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Health Synthesis," explores the complex links between the preservation of healthy and biodiverse natural ecosystems and human health.

"Over the past 50 years, humans have changed natural ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in human history," said Dr. Lee Jong-wook, director-general of the World Health Organization.

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