Invasive species: the threat to human health

The damage that invasive species can cause to the environment and the economy are well known, but impacts on human health have been much less analysed. However, invasive species can cause impacts ranging from psychological effects, phobias, discomfort and nuisance to allergies, poisoning, bites, disease and even death. Invasives experts Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico of the University of Florence, Italy say that in addition to these direct effects, some work in more indirect ways. Humans are menaced by alien invasive species affecting the services provided by ecosystems. “These services are vital to our well-being: changes may decrease the availability of drinking water and of products from fisheries, agriculture and forestry, alter pollination and impoverish culture and recreation,” say Mazza and Tricarico.

Miluz
The invasive red swamp crayfish, linked to disease in fishermen (photo by Miluz).

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World Water Day 2017 – Why Waste Water?

Wastewater
World Water Day is an annual event that takes place on 22nd March.  It is a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater, as well as emphasising the need for sustainable management of global water resources.  Each year, World Water Day highlights a different aspect of freshwater, and the theme chosen for 2017, is “wastewater”, in support of Sustainable Development Goal 6.3, to improve water quality and reduce, treat and reuse wastewater.  This article, written by CABI’s Global Health and Environmental Science Editors, Wendie Norris and Stephanie Cole, examines the importance of wastewater treatment in terms of resource recovery and environmental preservation, as well as its role in protecting human health.

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How soil health is integral to One Health

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One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health (#OneHealth) Day on November 3rd 2016

 "It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet."Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).

 

The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:

‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.

This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.

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Urban trees – an air pollution solution?

Central_parkImage: Unsplash, Pixabay.com

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day – November 3rd 2016

November 3rd 2016 will be host to the first ever One Health Day, an international campaign that aims to bring attention to how planetary health challenges are addressed.  It may not be obvious, but public health and the environment are inextricably interlinked.  The physical environment, which includes housing, sanitation, drinking water and air, has significant effects on human health and well-being.  Therefore, effective management of the environment is important, so that potential health issues can be avoided.  With this in mind, the focus of this blog is urban air pollution, its impact on health, and how trees could help improve the air quality in towns and cities.

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BBC launches Woman’s Hour Power List 2014: highlights FGM in time for International Woman’s Day

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ON February 26th, BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour launched the Woman’s Hour Power List 2014, which this year will identify the top 10 female ‘game changers’ operating in the United Kingdom today. Women resident in the UK  who are “changing the rules in culture, society and business” in our country.

The Power List will be drawn up by a panel of 5, from candidates suggested by expert witnesses and Radio 4 listeners. In the programme, Emma Barnett (panel chair) and Rachel Johnson (panel member) were interviewed live as to their criteria for choosing the 10 (we also heard from other panel members via taped interviews).

It became clear that though they expected to be considering high profile whistle-blowers and twitter campaigners, they were not looking for women already household names but those who within their sphere had “game-changed”.  Women who were not close to traditional sources of power i.e. with easy access to parliament, but who were influencing lives to make them better.  

Age was not to be a limitation, for teenage girls have game-changed on the world stage, such as Malala Yousafzai who has influenced education of girls in the Arab world and in Pakistan.

Last year’s Woman’s Hour Power List had 100 names, an average age over 50, and many well-known. They want this 2014 list to be younger and have unexpected names:  a list to make people sit up and think “wow I never knew about her!”

The interviewer suggested a name, which they all agreed was exactly the kind of person for the list, and this name caused my ears to perk up!  It was Fahma Mohamed, the teenage female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner who, supported by the Guardian newspaper, recently ran a petition to lobby the government to address FGM in the UK. Here in the UK, schoolgirls are sent away for "summer cutting".

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Not much fun being Roma

  
3774606072_dfd3cdf013copyright: Adam Jones PhD

It's always struck me as ironic that a number of Hollywood film stars are happy to be credited with being 1/4  (1/8, 1/16th…) Native American but its not so positive to be more full-blooded Native American,  in terms of your social status, health or life opportunities in the US.

And if you substituted gypsy or Roma or “traveller” (a UK term) into those same actors’ ethnic mix, you wouldn’t even get claims for 1/8.

AS part of its fight for human rights, the Anne Frank museum, Amsterdam, which I visited 2 weeks ago, featured the plight of Roma in Hungary who are being pressured by Far Right groups, in their interactive debate for visitors. Daily, visitors are presented with current TV news items, linked to human rights, and asked to vote yes or no to a proposition.

I was in Amsterdam to attend EUPHA 2010. A speaker, Daniela Bobokova, presenting in the Health Inequalities session, dispelled thoroughly another preconceived idea about Roma…that they are drunks. “In Central Europe, it is thought that Roma drink more, smoke more and generally have more risky behaviour”, she said. Her talk focussed on binge drinking, comparing Roma and non-Roma adolescents in Slovak Republic, a country where Roma make up 7% of the population.

 

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Helping yourself (GlobalHealthTrials.org)

In 2004,  a couple of years  after I started work for CABI, I heard a talk
by Paul Chinnock, then part of the Cochrane Collaboration, (conduct systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare) and now editor of Tropika.net. Essentially this talk outlined
the need for evidence-based interventions for developing countries:  amongst other suggestions, it called for a new
method to analyse evidence from small scale studies and for every Cochrane review to identify the most effective
intervention for both resource-poor and resource-rich settings.

Why was such an evidence base being provided
to the developed world by Cochrane but not to developing countries? To
understand the reason for this, you need to know how they work.

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