Biodiversity and non-communicable diseases - request for information

The COHAB Initiative Secretariat is preparing a series of information notes on the relevance of biodiversity and ecosystem services to non-communicable diseases, and is seeking input from COHAB Partners and other organisations.

The relationship between biodiversty change and the emergence and spread infectious disease is extensively studied and of growing international significance; however, the implications of biodiversity change for the incidence of certain non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is often less well understood. Research by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Bioversity International and others has demonstrated the importance of biodiversity to addressing many diseases related to poor nutrient intake, including obesity, certain cancers, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and diabetes; while others such as the RSPB have examined the value of biodiversity and natural areas in addressing social and psychological illness (see reports by Dr. William Bird for the RSPB). From another perspective, there are also negative associations between biodiversity and disease risk, relating to allergies and toxicity, which cannot be overlooked. However, at the levels of health policy and practice, there is little awareness or action on the links between biodiversity protection and NCDs, and a need to build capacity for appropriate collaborative methods for addressing conservation and NCD risks simultaneously.

To help address these gaps, the Secretariat is compiling information on current or recent initiatives to investigate positive and negative associations between biodiversity and NCDs, with particular focus on how these risks are increased or decreased by bioiversity and its loss or conservation. This will be synthesised to prepare a set of information notes for policy makers, practitioners and students in the health, environmental and social sciences. We are also interested to hear from potential research partners who may be willing to work with the COHAB Initiative to investigate some of these issues in developed and developing countries.

Please send your input, questions, comments or ideas to the Secretariat by post or email, no later than Friday 1st May 2009. Thank you.








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