Martha and Murray Sr. Fisher Lecture to kick off Ecohealth and Global Health Symposium


A two-day event running Dec. 7 and 8 organized by Faculty of Environmental Studies professor Martin Bunch will take an in-depth look at the social, environmental and global changes of health in development.

Martin Bunch
Martin Bunch

Bunch has organized the event on behalf of the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health (COPEH-Can), a collaboration of academics and practitioners involved in developing the field of ecohealth through research training and application.

“Ecohealth (short for ecosystem approach to human health and well-being) is an exciting new field that draws upon an understanding of coupled human and natural systems to take action with communities to improve health,” says Bunch. “Dr. Carlota Monroy’s lecture on Dec. 7 provides an excellent example of the approach that will set the stage to explore a range of ecohealth applications and experiences during the symposium the following day.”

The 2015 Martha and Murray Sr. Fisher Lecture in Ruralization will be given by Monroy at the Schulich Executive Dining Room, York University, at 6:30pm on Dec. 7.

Carlota Monroy on horseback
Carlota Monroy on horseback

Monroy holds a PhD in medical entomology from the University of Uppsala, and is founder and senior researcher at the Laboratory of Applied Entomology and Parasitology at San Carlos University in Guatemala. Monroy is the first woman to receive the Guatemala National Science Prize, which she earned for her research on Chagas disease.

Chagas disease is a parasitic disease that can affect various organs, potentially resulting in death. The parasite is transmitted to humans primarily through insects. It is a “forgotten” disease of the poor that affects much of the rural population in Latin America. Monroy uses a community-based “ecohealth” approach to study the persistence of vector species in human dwellings. Using local technology and skills, and working with local community members (particularly women), her team addresses housing conditions to reduce exposure to insect vectors.

Monroy’s lecture sets the stage for the Ecohealth and Global Health Symposium at the same venue on Dec. 8.

Global health addresses public health and health promotion in global contexts. Its challenges, including chronic and infectious disease, do not recognize national borders. Similarly, ecosystems and the ecological determinants of health cannot be confined within political boundaries.

Ecohealth focuses on combining ideas in ecology with the social and environmental determinants of health. The field is transdisciplinary, striving to engage community members in a participatory framework that addresses ecological sustainability, gender and social equity, with the ultimate goal of employing knowledge for action to improve human health and well-being.

Indigenous people of Guatemala
Indigenous people of Guatemala

The symposium will explore aspects of ecohealth or “the ecosystem approach to health” that may be useful to those working in the field of global health. Four panelists will discuss research ranging from agro-ecosystems and pesticides, to Aboriginal Youth and HIV, and collaborative research. Panelists include Donald Cole (University of Toronto), Andres Sanchez (International Development Research Centre (IDRC)), Lindsay Galway (Lakehead University) and  Sarah Flicker (York University).

As part of the symposium, participants will engage in an interactive activity to apply ecohealth thinking to: health and climate change; pedagogy and training; ecohealth and public health; well-being in rural conservation contexts in Costa Rica; and health/well-being and Indigenous communities in Canada.

The event has been generously sponsored by York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and Faculty of Health, the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health (CoPEH Canada), Ekosanté, the International Development Research Centre and the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean.

To read more about the Martha and Murray Sr. Fisher Lecture and the Ecohealth and Global Health Symposium, and to RSVP, visit the event webpage.