News and Opinions  –  2019

Mother Earth conference in Argentina – the environment in focus

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2019-06-13

Beginning June, ReAct Latin America co-hosted the second Mother Earth conference in Rosario, Argentina. During five days different challenges in regards of human health and ecosystems were addressed and linked to communities, the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

Flyer for Mother Earth Conference.
Poster for the Mother Earth Conference in Rosario, Argentina.

The five meeting days were convened by ReAct Latin America, the Institute of Socio-environmental Health at National University of Rosario, the Union of Scientists Committed to the Society and Nature of Latin America (UCCSNAL) and the International Society for the Improvement of the Use of Medicines (ISIUM).

Human health and ecosystems

During these five days, the different problems of human health and ecosystems were addressed and linked to communities, the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.

A variety of topics were discussed:

  • the health of the planet
  • the importance of ecosystems for health care
  • violence against women
  • the need to learn from bacteria – how to generate harmonious relationships
  • shared intelligence and community wisdom regarding antibiotic use
  • human rights
  • the importance of bacteria for all living creatures
  • what is medicine
  • what is health
  • the need to integrate community knowledge in the Community Action Plans.

Damián Verzeñasi, Director of the Institute of Socio-environmental Health of the National University of Rosario, convening and hosting the event said:

“Health cannot be synonymous with attention to the disease. We need to build health systems that think about integrality, that build territories that allow human beings, microorganisms and ecosystems to live in a healthy relationship.”

Discussions on environmental issues

Women in a row, in discussions panel.
There were fruitful discussions during the conference days.

The presentations and discussions focused on the environmental problems and how they affect human health.

Topics such as:

  • the use of pesticides
  • the loss of biodiversity
  • the contamination of water and air with pesticides
  • evidence of the substantial changes caused in the ecosystems
  • antibiotics in regards of production and consumption of healthy foods and
  • contributions to the spread of resistance genes.

The richness of the meeting days came from the opportunity to share evidence, knowledge and experiences of the subjects mentioned.  Community experience applying knowledge and evidence generated by science for areas such as production of food, care of the soil, air and water and a healthy environement were highlighted as practices that should be be implemented in other spaces.

Behavior change through the classroom

ReAct Latin America’s educational material, Alforja Educativa, was one of the outstanding practices discussed at the conference. Educational material in the classroom – via the Child to Child strategy – has been a tool to change children’s perception of the bacterial world, their knowledge of antibiotic use and the need to take care of the environment to maintain health.

The video “The voices of childhood” was presented, showing the commitment by children from different parts of the world to care for the planet and to see health for humans, animals, plants, ecosystems as one.

In the same spirit – health promotion in the classroom – the experience of school gardens in Formosa implemented by the Ministry of Health of Argentina (in which ReAct Latin America participates with content) about the microbial world was presented.

Diversity among participants

In addition, the diversity of participants and participants at this meeting is worth noting. Professionals and researchers of human health, sociologists, anthropologists, veterinarians, teachers, community leaders, human rights defenders, environmentalists, organizations of academics and social organizations were present to address these issues and propose changes that allow progress under the One Health paradigm.

Workshops to include concepts to Community Action Plans

Several workshops were held to reflect and construct documents that will incorporate community wisdom and ancestral knowledge into the Community Action Plans and strategies to address antibiotic resistance. These were a continuation of the earlier dialogues held in Ecuador and Bolivia.

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