An interdisciplinary group of twenty-five prominent scientists, physicians, policy experts, and indigenous leaders were invited to Dartmouth to share their expertise on the rapidly changing health conditions in the Arctic and make recommendations to improve health care delivery and promote the wellness of individuals and communities.
“The Dickey Center has taken a leadership role in fostering
high-level dialogs to improve understanding of the interdisciplinary science
and policy issues facing the Arctic. One
of the most critical issues is how rapid environmental change is putting the
health and social institutions of indigenous peoples under tremendous stress,”
said Ambassador Kenneth S. Yalowitz, Director of the Dickey Center for
International Understanding at Dartmouth, and co-chair of the University of the
Arctic’s Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy.
The invited experts discussed the complexity of interacting factors
such as warming temperatures, melting ice, a colonial legacy, and geographical
remoteness that have conspired to create environmental and social conditions
that impact the health of individuals and communities living in the Arctic. Epidemiological evidence shows infectious
diseases and vectors previously only seen in warmer climates are moving north
with serious effects on people and wildlife.
A decline in traditional food sources, such as walrus and seal, due to
climate change and the diet substitution of less nutritious and expensive
market foods has led to an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes and
heart disease. Indigenous leaders and
social scientists report that the resulting community and social disruption has
led to an increased need for mental health and addiction services, particularly
among young men. Studies of soil and
water contamination from industrial activity show increased arsenic and mercury
contamination of food and water sources creating uncertainty regarding what is
safe to eat.
“Despite these serious challenges Arctic communities are
resilient and new partnerships between scientists and communities are focused
on building more local capacity and control over health care and wellness
programs,” says Ross Virginia, Director of Dartmouth’s Institute of Arctic
Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim addressed the conference as
did Provost Carol Folt, and Dr. Albert G. Mulley,
Jr., Director of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science.
Seven of the eight member states of the Arctic Council, an
intergovernmental body that coordinates cooperation between the countries
bordering the Arctic [Canada, Denmark
(including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden,
and the United States] were
represented at the meeting.
This was the
fourth conference of the UArctic’s Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy,
which is co-chaired by Dartmouth College and the University of Alaska
Fairbanks. A previous IACP conference, co-hosted with the Carnegie Endowment,
was held at Dartmouth in 2009 to discuss Arctic security issues resulting from
A conference report that includes a summary of the
discussions as well as recommendations for action will be published in Fall
2011 and widely distributed to governmental policy makers and non-governmental
The conference was generously supported at Dartmouth by the Dickey
Center for International Understanding and the Office of the Dean of Faculty,
and by the Canadian Consulate of New England, The University of Alaska
Fairbanks, and the Kane Lodge Foundation.
For more information, please contact the Institute of Arctic
Studies at 603-646-1278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arctic Health: Challenges and Responses to Rapid Climate, Environmental, and Social Change
Fri, Jun 03, 2011
A meeting of leading international health experts and indigenous leaders from the Far North was hosted by the Dickey Center for International Understanding and its Institute of Arctic Studies on May 23-25, 2011, to discuss the effects of rapid environmental and social change on the health and social institutions of peoples living in the North.