In “Shifting the Health Paradigm for Flourishing,” UK General Practitioner Gillian Orrow describes how her focus on disease shifted as she learned about the microbiome and adopted an “ecological approach to health.”
Seeing the ties between the industrial health care system to industrial agriculture inspired her to collaborate with local individuals, nonprofits, and government officials to build a community health care program, Growing Health Together. Today, she has a very different vision of health — “not as doing things to people, to fix them” but using ecological approaches to allow for equitable flourishing.
Helping to “humanize and calm the environment of care” is key to Nova Scholar Sara Warber’s latest project. In “Nudging Hospital Audiences to Link Planetary Health and Human Health Through a Participatory Art Exhibition,” Warber’s vision is to use the hospital setting to provide an immersive respite in nature, including soundscapes as well as visuals, and to reach broad audiences who may never visit an art museum or go a nature center.
She believes engaging people when health is at the forefront of their minds, connecting them to the natural world, and giving them ways to act can improve their own health as well as the health of the planet.
“What is Health for?” is the question nutrition expert and president of True Health Initiative David Katz urges us to ask. He observes that for too long, health “admonition” has come in the form of telling people what they should or should not be doing, which can easily backfire — as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diet is the single leading indicator of premature death in the United States, for example, but the solution may not be telling people what they should be doing or how they can lose weight, but how we can protect our loved ones and find the “sweet spot” between a diet that is healthy for people and for the environment. When we talk about health, we’ve got to talk about “healthy vital people on a healthy vital planet” and find common ground to give us all hope.
With “Our planet, our health,” the theme of this year’s World Health Day, it’s a great time to learn from Sione Tu’itahi, Richard Egan, and Huti Watson of the Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education.
In “Promoting Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing for our Survival,” they ask the health community to ponder how science, ethics, spirituality, and indigenous knowledge can address planetary health and human well-being. Indigenous perspectives, long connected to natural landscapes, see humans as stewards of the Earth — a perspective exemplified in the encouraging practice of giving legal rights and personhood to natural systems such as rivers and forests. While “Planet Earth is broken,” our presenters insist there is hope if we have collective courage, will, and action.
If you enjoyed these presentations, we encourage you to check out our previous blog posts featuring additional inVIVO conference highlights:
With a theme of “From Healing to Flourishing,” the inVIVO Planetary Health’s 10th annual conference treated participants to more than 160 inspiring talks from scholars, artists, activists, scientists, researchers, health professionals, children, and more (see the program and bios here). Become a member of inVIVO to view all recordings from the 2021 and 2020 conferences.