Joining the dots: health and environment

Dr. Adithya Pradyumna

Dr. Adithya participated as a panellist in an event “Joining the dots: health and environment” organised on 6th July by Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bangalore. The event was attended by around 50 individuals, including high school students. It included a short talk and movie presentation by Kalyan Varma (on human ecosystems, forests and conservation); environmental health by TR Shankar Raman (Nature Conservation Foundation), Aruna Sekhar (Amnesty International), Neethi Rao & Prashanth NS (both IPH), and Adithya. Aspects discussed included lack of access to health services in forested areas, man-animal conflict, mining and health, and health impact assessment.

Adithya discussed about his journey in environmental health, indicating the various challenges that he has encountered along the way – finding mentors, technical challenges, ethical challenges and action challenges. He discussed his experiences as a fellow at SOCHARA in 2008-09, where he understood the importance of a health perspective in environmental work, and about his work as a staff member at SOCHARA including visits to polluted areas, engaging with affected communities, and critiquing policy. This included the work done with the manual scavenging community at Chitradurga, the pollution-impacted communities from Kasargod, Eloor, Mettur and Singrauli, and the climate impacted communities from interior Maharashtra. A redefinition on the understanding of environmental health itself was necessary to break traditional disciplinary boundaries, and to find meaningful solutions to environmental health challenges.

The open discussion that followed was lively, and indicative of a growing popular concern and enlightenment on the urgency and scale of issues in the field of environment and health. The discussion ended with inputs on how each one can engage with these issues as individuals and professionals.