Blog

Capacity development as a structural intervention for sustainable health

By Ngozi Joe-Ikechebelu

As a public health specialist from the global south (Nigeria) and eager to start my much-anticipated Canadian PhD study, I never envisaged being involved with such a dynamic, trans-disciplinary health group as the BCCI. The on-site event at the Interior Health office in Kelowna, a city surrounded by hills, brought a serene environment suitable for capacity development in global health.

The theme was “Equity-Centered Practices for Connecting knowledge with Action,” one that the facilitators expounded on practical approaches that are aiding my academic and research inclines especially for health disparities seen with social related actions and its possible untoward health outcomes for certain groups. The associated networking and mentorship revealed the humble nature of this group in its quest for health equity. I was eager to be part of it, and it has been an eventful one year filled with academic and social processes.

I had been faced with certain capacity challenges necessary for global health practices; a contextual institutional restriction of my background. Following the Kelowna exposure, there has been a series of monthly activities at UVic (a part of BCCI) for me. The monthly networking of situated learning processes from ally researchers from different disciplines; the continuing nudges from mentors; the town and gown activity of January 2018 that featured engineering and medical researchers; the continuing webinar meetings and trainings on topical global health issues; the Social Sciences and Humanities Council (SSHRC) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) connection grant writings; and the Nigerian working group on the impacts of climate change on health.

All of these activities are changing my approaches to global health practices and applications of varying theoretical frameworks. The diversity of members reveals an obvious partnership that humbles one from a global south context and the dual shared benefits show a sustainable interventional health approach that can help alleviate health disparities.

29d4b3bad9d644c08b0668e9119fdb7bNgozi is a Public Health specialist with an MBBS from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, an MPH from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, an MSc in International Health Development and Management from the University of Birmingham, UK, and is currently a PhD student in the Social Dimensions of Health Program at the University of Victoria. Ngozi is an active member of the  BCCI Community of Practice and following the event in Kelowna, she and fellow participant Paivi Abernathy reported on the BCCI in a Discussion Group on Global Health Research session with the Centre for Global Studies (CFGS).

Podcast: How climate change affects nursing with Raluca Radu

The podcast for nurse leaders who are ready to shift their thinking from “just a nurse” to claim their position as a powerful agent for change. Join host, Amy Deagle, the Founder and CEO of the International Network of Nurse Leaders, as she interviews nurse leaders from across the country to talk about their personal journeys in leadership, and their advice for nurses wishing to be proactive in their careers.

Raluca Radu speaks about the current and future impacts of climate change on nursing. 

Nurse or not, listen on to hear about Raluca’s story:

  • Why she chose to leap into a Masters degree early in her career
  • Why she shifted her focus to climate change and nursing
  • Environmental factors that will increase health risks
  • What to do when you’re facing challenges in nursing
  • Recharging after burnout
  • Horizontal violence and bullying in the sector
  • Simple ways to get involved in policy change

Connections between planetary health, indigenous sovereignty, and sports

Reflections from the 2019 British Columbia Coalition Institute

By Claire Remington

A recent UN report celebrated the insight that “Indigenous sovereignty could save the planet.” At the British Columbia Coalition Institute workshop at the University of Victoria, Dr. Shannon Waters, a member of Stz’uminus First Nation and a Medical Health Officer with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, expounded on this insight with her observations of the state of planetary health in her home territory of Cowichan Valley. Planetary health is a field of research that illuminates the relationship between human health and the health of the environment. Dr. Waters plays a key leadership role on the Cowichan Watershed Board. The Cowichan Watershed Board is co-chaired by indigenous leadership and was instituted in response to a myriad of issues with water quality and availability in the Cowichan Valley.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District describes how summer drought is the “new normal” in the Cowichan Valley. Drought has immediate impacts on key ecosystem functioning like the availability of water in rivers for salmon migration as well as more indirect impacts on mental heath. Ecological grief, or solastalgia, is the experience of grief produced in response to the dramatic scale of ecological loss that we are experiencing, or anticipating, on both local and global scales. For indigenous communities, the sentiment of eco-grief can be magnified by the degree of connectedness of people with their land produced through historical relationships that continue to this day. These relationships are being tested by dramatic changes in environmental conditions that make it difficult, if not dangerous, to continue with traditional practices.

Dr. Waters shared how there was an outbreak of Vibrio cholera in Cowichan last year caused by the consumption of herring eggs. Eating raw herring eggs are a traditional food practice for many First Nations communities, but the health authorities’ response on the issue was to cook the herring eggs prior to consumption. It was conjectured that the prevalence of V. cholera was caused by an increased availability of nutrients and an increase in ocean temperatures and pH. This is one example among countless of the challenges, tension, and grief that we are experiencing – and anticipating – as a result of climate change.

I have been coaching Ultimate Frisbee to youth in indigenous communities with Victoria-based Ultimate Spirit. Ultimate Spirit was created in collaboration with the Indigenous Sport, Activity, and Recreation Council (ISPARC); Ultimate Canada; and BC Ultimate. Central to Ultimate Spirit is the principle of Spirit of the Game. Spirit of the Game has several tenets to guide players towards a greater sense of community even in times of competition, but fundamentally Spirit of the Game refers to the fostering of connection – between you and your spirit, between you and fellow players, and between you and your surrounding environment. Guided by the principles of Spirit of the Game, Ultimate Spirit seeks to use sport as a mechanism for social change, a fostering of wellbeing, and creating opportunities for healing.

As a coach with Ultimate Spirit, I have been grateful to share my enthusiasm for Ultimate Frisbee and what I’ve learned about connectivity through sport and Spirit of the Game. After listening to Dr. Waters and her clear expression that “we are the stories we tell ourselves,” I am grateful to learn more about how to foster confidence and positivity in indigenous youth around managing eco-grief and stewarding our planetary systems.

Claire is a master’s student in the Public Health & Environmental Engineering (PH2E) Lab at the University of Victoria. Her research explores the design of sustainable sanitation systems from three different but complementary perspectives: lab-based environmental engineering work to characterize fresh faeces, big-picture desk-based research looking at the flow of nitrogen through global agriculture and sanitation systems, and the installation of a composting toilet on the UVic campus. She communicates through these varied perspectives that sanitation is a global issue; the design of sanitation systems that 1) protects public health and 2) stewards sustainable water and biogeochemical cycles is an urgent priority for both developing and developed country contexts.

Previously, she was engaged in economic, geographic, and public health analyses of SOIL’s household sanitation service in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

(For more information: http://claireremington.com/)

Wildfires in BC: Health effects and system implications in a global perspective

March 27, 2019 at 12:00pm PT

Wildfires are becoming more severe in British Columbia (BC) and most areas of Canada. In 2017, over 1,300 fires displaced 65,000 residents, including 880 patients and 700 health system staff, costing over $560 million. In 2018, the largest area burned on record, disproportionately impacting remote and Indigenous communities. During both seasons, severe smoke pollution affected the province for weeks, with several communities experiencing some of the worst air quality conditions in the world. 

This webinar explores implications of climate-related severe events from an emergency management perspective, focusing on health care system impacts in BC and lessons learned from consecutive years of a provincial state of emergency. Using an environmental health lens, evidence from BC is placed in a global context to highlight critical gaps that researchers are racing to fill.

Suggested readings

Paul Kovacs, Alice Cullingford, Mike Flannigan, and Lilia Yumagulova. (2018). Canada’s Burning Question : An in-deph feature on the progress made and the callenges remaining for fire management in Canada. HazNet.

Tara K. McGee, Amy Christianson, Kyla Mottershead, and Henok Asfaw. (2018). Advice for emergency managers from the First Nations Wildfire Evacuation Partnership. HazNet.

Report and findings of the BC Flood and Wildfire. (2018). Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in British Columbia

John Lavery is the Executive Director of Health Emergency Management British Columbia (HEMBC). John is an active member of the WHO’s Emergency Operations Centre Network, co-chairs multiple Canadian federal/provincial/territorial committees, and is a Canadian co-chair of the Pacific Northwest Border Alliance.

Sarah Henderson, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia and Senior Scientist, Environmental Health Services, BC Centre for Disease Control. Sarah is an international expert on the health effects of wildfire smoke and has been studying this topic in BC and around the world for more than 15 years. At the BCCDC she leads a program of applied research and surveillance to support evidence-based policy for the province.

Pre-workshop prep: Planetary health

These resource guides provide an introduction to planetary health.

Main sessions

Session 1

What (on earth) is planetary health: Planetary health through Western and Indigenous lenses

Session 2

Mobilizing our commitment to the future through equity- and evidence-informed health equity action

Session 3

Planetary health at the local level: The health co-benefits of a one planet region

Session 4

BC and beyond: An exploration of future research engagement

Special session guides

Session 1

A dialogue with Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

Dinner: 10 Acres Farm and Restaurant Group

Food systems: Local and global

Incorporating CCGHR principles in rural health research in BC

June 19, 2019 at 12:00pm PT

Through this discussion you will learn how the project led to the development of 5 ‘building blocks’ needed to sustain local maternity care, hear the perspectives of North Island community representatives, the Health Authority, health professionals and other experts and key stakeholders, as well as explore the community-driven research process and its alignment with the CCGHR principles, within a global-local health context. 

In this webinar, presenter Kira Barwich will guide us through the process and progress of the Building Blocks for Sustainable Rural Maternity Care, a project that began as a response to inequity of maternity services for North Vancouver Island communities and with an intent to understand community experiences of birth on North Vancouver Island. This in-depth, community-driven investigation worked to understand how to support culturally appropriate and respectful local maternity care, as articulated by mothers, elders, care providers and community members. 

Kira Barwich is a Research Coordinator at University of British Columbia at the Centre for Rural Health Research. Kira has an MSc in Global Health from Trinity College, University of Dublin and has worked on global health research projects in Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Cambodia. Her current role involves looking at how to sustain maternity care in rural, low-resource communities in British Columbia.

Kira is an active member of the Student and Young Professional Network and the BCCI Community of Practice. 

BCCI external consultations for CIHR-IDRC strategic planning

May 2, 2018 at 12:00pm PT

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) held a series of consultations in reference to its global health strategic planning exercise, in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). These were regional events and by invitation only. After each CIHR-IDRC session, one-page briefing notes were prepared for CCGHR members. CIHR agreed to receive a Coalition “external” consultation document reflecting the views of researchers across Canada. 

On April 9, BC members of CCGHR attended an in-person consultation. Following this, a webinar provided an opportunity to further reflect views from across BC, specifically those of the BCCI Community of Practice and its key component, Students and Young Professionals (SYPs). All proceedings were integrated into a summary report submitted to CIHR-IDRC in May. 

Building on the CCGHR-led external consultations that have taken place across the country, we examined Canadian strengths and areas for opportunity in global health research. We looked to deepen the conversation and explore avenues for concrete action through the BCCI Community of Practice. Across these themes, we also looked to consider the health impacts of climate change

Outputs

Download the slide deck for the webinar.

Briefing notes from the first three internal consultations as well as the external consultation in Vancouver.

The summary report submitted to CIHR-IDRC.