Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Shaping a Sustainable Healthy Future

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Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Shaping a Sustainable Healthy Future

Text of Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Shaping a Sustainable Healthy Future

  • 1.I s s u e N o . 26 S u m m e r 2 0 0 6Healthy planet,healthy peopleShaping a sustainable healthy

2. C O N T E N T SFEATUREVicHealth Letter Issue No. 26 Summer 20064 OVERVIEW: SHAPING14 NATURAL 20 HEALTHY CITIESA SUSTAINABLE,CONNECTIONSHealth, wellbeing and ecologicalHEALTHY FUTUREConnecting with nature really is goodsustainability are on the agendaPromoting healthy communities for human health and wellbeing.of cities around the world.means protecting the physical,Dr Mardie Townsend Dr Iain Butterworth &natural, biological and social factors Prof. Evelyne de Leeuwin the environment that influence ourhealth. Prof. Ian Lowe 16 SENSE OF PLACE21 WHEN WIN-WIN WORKSConnection to land, place and peopleshape us all. Rosie HobanThe value of working together to8 RICHER IS BETTER,achieve mutual environmental and health benefits. Andrew RossRIGHT? WELL NO,NOT ANY MORE!18 NATURAL HIGHSMaking health, not wealth, thebottom line of progress can help usGreen gyms are improving humanhealth and the health of our22 VICHEALTH NEWSbushland. Andrew RossFunding opportunities, publications,lead a more sustainable lifestyle. events and more.Richard Eckersley 19 BRINGING THE1 CREATING 1PADDOCK CLOSERENVIRONMENTS AS IFTO THE PLATEHEALTH MATTERED Improving access to fresh andWe know what constitutes a decent affordable local produce promotesplace to live, and we know thehealth for individuals, families andhealth benefits of living in one. communities and the environment.What we need to do now is to create Maryann McIntyreenvironments in which everyoneshealth matters. Andrew RossCOVER: Illustration by Toby Quarmby, Vishus Productions2 VicHealth L e t t e r 3. F R O M T H E C EOH ealth is inextricably linked to the quality and structure with key organisations, including the International Council of the environments we live in. In the last year we havefor Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI) on a tool to quantify watched on as global environmental events have hadthe economic, ecological and social benefits of investing incatastrophic consequences for people and places: the IndianWalking School Buses; the Planning Institute of AustraliaOcean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and most recently the South (Victoria) so that health is planned in rather than plannedAsia earthquake. These disasters have dramatically reinforcedout of urban design; and Environment Victoria, to implementthe immediate and sometimes painful connection between the a healthy outdoor exercise program; all three initiatives areenvironment and human health and survival. covered in this issue. We are learning the value of workingThe links between the environments where we live together to simultaneously achieve mutual environmental and towns, suburbs, cities and our health appear much more health benefits.mundane in comparison, and can quickly become lost amidThese kind of one-off partnerships are exciting, butthe stresses and strains of daily life. However, these links are they are only a start. The recent House of Representativescrucial: historically, it has been environmental improvementsCommittee Inquiry into sustainable cities found that, tothat have created the most significant health gains. It was theestablish a path to sustainability, coordinated governance isdevelopment of widespread sewage and sanitation systems in essential.2 This will require nothing less than people at allthe late 1800s and 1900s which led to the most significant levels of government working together for mutual advantage.reduction in deaths and disease in the 20th century, ratherTo help push the debate forward about how sectors can workthan any one medical intervention.1better together to promote healthy environments we have askedIt is easy to see how people can become divorced fromsome influential commentators to contribute to this VicHealthecological realities, ignoring the impact of human presenceLetter, including Prof. Ian Lowe, Richard Eckersley, Dr Iainand activity. But growth of populations and industrial activityButterworth, Prof. Evelyne de Leeuw and Dr Mardie Townsend.cannot be sustained on their current path without seriouslyI hope you enjoy reading this issue. As always, we welcomedepleting the planets resources and overloading its ability toyour with pollution and waste materials.Today, there are a bewildering number of terms used todescribe the links between the environment and health ecological public health, healthy sustainable communities, andeco-cities to name a few. What they are all trying to articulate Dr Rob Moodieis that our health depends on the quality of our environment Chief Executive Officer natural, built, social and cultural from whether we are ableto walk safely, breathe easily or realise our potential physically,REFERENCESintellectually and emotionally.1 Crombie, H 1995, Sustainable development and health, Public Health Alliance, Birmingham.The often fragmented links between the environment and 2 Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage 2005, Sustainable cities, House ofhealth need to be restored. To this end we have been working Representatives, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.From the last issueThe issue on prevention was excellent, and very relevantWe had such a good response to our last issue (An ounceto our current Commission of Inquiry where the recentof prevention is worth a pound of cure: making the case forincrease in investment in prevention versus acute care ischoosing health promotion) that we decided to publish some ofbeing questioned.your comments and feedback. LEISA ELDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS, QUEENSLAND HEALTHComments in response to this issue are also welcome, andshould be sent to or by mail to The last edition of the VicHealth Letter is a great read simplethe address on the back cover. but powerful, with helpful quotes that will serve as persuasive reminders. I will be using the magazine in my quest toYour team has done an excellent job in raising many ofcontinue reorienting those around me government andthe most important challenges we face in health to advocate effectively, what evidence to use, and what KAYE GRAVES, MANAGER HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, BENDIGO COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICESstakeholders want and need, as well as reminding us there aremany examples of success that we need to draw on. Ive sent this issue to our network of health promotion MICHELE HERRIOT, A/DIRECTOR, HEALTH PROMOTION BRANCH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SA coordinators throughout rural South Australia. The view from the economist is the clearest explanation that Ive readCongratulations on producing such an excellent and thought- on why health promotion is an essential investment for aprovoking newsletter in health promotion. VERONICA GRAHAM,healthy society. CYNTHIA SPURR, CHIEF PROJECT OFFICER, COUNTRY HEALTHSTATE PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITIONIST, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, MELBOURNEPROMOTION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ADELAIDE Summer 2006 3 4. OVERVIEW: PROF. IAN LOWE Shaping a sustainable,healthyJust as we are more likely to be healthy if welive in a healthy community, we are morelikely to have healthy communities if we have healthy ecological systems.This principle has been recognised fordecades; the Ottawa Charter contains strongreferences to the need for environmentalhealth. The Healthy Cities movement, nowincluding more than 10,000 locationsworldwide, has put increasing emphasison the need for healthy environments. There are direct health impactsof unhealthy environments, suchas the established link betweenurban air quality and respiratory problems, as well as the consequences of polluted water and poor sanitation in the urbanareas of developing countries.There are indirect effects, likethe greater probability of deathsand injuries if travellers use carsor motorbikes rather than publictransport. We should also be aware of the beneficial effects of natural areas in cities on mental health and wellbeing. We rely on natural systems to provide the essentials of life:oxygen, water and food. We also need those systems to processour wastes. Some of the systemicfeatures that contribute to poor health result directly from the degradation ofthe natural worlds capacity to provide those essential services. Unsustainable foodproduction practices are increasing the risk of animal infections crossing over to humans.PHOTO: NASAS EARTHObvious examples include bird flu and variantOBSERVATORY Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from BSE, while there also4 VicHealth L e t t e r 5. PHOTO: CAROLINE SHEEHANFUTURE Consumerism, individualismand domination of naturemust give way to quality of life, human solidarity and ecological evidence linking HIV/AIDS with animal infections. Crowdingis putting ever-increasing pressure on natural systems.more humans together with increasing numbers of farm animals Successive ABS reports on measures of progress all showincreases the risks of these serious health problems.that the economic advance of the last 15 years has come at A recent study1 documented the alarming health impacts of significant environmental cost.4climate change. With further warming inevitable, direct health The 2004 report by the International GeosphereBiosphereeffects like heat stress and indirect effects such as vector-borne Programme, Global Change and the Earth System: A Planetdisease will worsen, but the scale of the problem will beUnder Pressure,5 painted a disturbing picture. It said that humandetermined by the way we respond.activities are affecting global systems in complex, interactive Natural systems provide our sense of place, our culturaland apparently accelerating ways, so that we now have theidentity and spiritual sustenance. We are healthier and more capacity to alter those natural systems in ways that threaten thefulfilled when those needs arevery processes and components onsatisfied. So investments in thewhich the human speci