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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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November 27, 2003
 Newspage

 


International project tackles
resource depletion and health

 
(L-R) Dr. Maureen Laryea, School of Nursing, Memorial; Dr. Maritta Valimaki, Tampere Universities, Finland; Dr. Dang Phuong Kiet, director of the Medicopsychological Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam; Dr. Lan Gien, School of Nursing, Memorial.
Photo by HSIMS
(L-R) Dr. Maureen Laryea, School of Nursing, Memorial; Dr. Maritta Valimaki, Tampere Universities, Finland; Dr. Dang Phuong Kiet, director of the Medicopsychological Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam; Dr. Lan Gien, School of Nursing, Memorial.

By Sharon Gray
A project on natural resource depletion and health involving three countries and numerous rural communities reached the final stages earlier this month when representatives from Finland, Vietnam and the Canadian participants met at Memorial’s School of Nursing to share their experience and preliminary findings and discuss the work to be done in the last six months of the project.
Dr. Lan Gien, Nursing, is the principal investigator at Memorial and Dr. Maureen Laryea, Nursing, is the co-principal investigator. Three years ago they assembled a large international interdisciplinary team to look at how the health of people in rural communities is affected by a variety of issues. In Newfoundland the study focuses on fishing communities affected by the termination of TAGS. The Canadian project has also looked at health issues of communities in Cape Breton where the coalmines have closed, not due to resource depletion, but to decreased global demand for coal. In Vietnam the study focuses on the impact of deforestation on peoples’ health; in Finland it explores the health status of the municipality workers of Salla.

Internationally, investigators include Dr. Maritta Valimaki, Tampere Universities in Finland and Dr. Dang Phuong Kiet, Vietnam. Dr Kiet explained that in Vietnam his team has used the same process and questionnaire used in the Canadian part of the project to collect data. “We have collected data on 214 families in the affected community and 205 households in a similar community not affected by deforestation so they can be compared.”

Dr. Kiet said he has conducted research on community issues for many years but has never seen any project so holistic and interdisciplinary. “This project has people in many different disciplines looking at one issue from a global perspective. Before we usually presented our findings to only the scientific community, but in this project the results are also going to communities and local governments so they benefit.”

Dr. Valimaki said the team in Finland is using the same method to study the community of Salla, a municipality in northern Finland, very near the Russian border. It shares the high unemployment of much of rural Newfoundland, and it is hoped that tourism will be the solution to this problem.

Dr. Gien said the advantage of having a number of different countries participating in this project is that experience and ways of coping can be shared. “This is quite important in an era of globalization – we all share like a big family.”

Data collection in the Atlantic Canadian communities has been largely completed. Questionnaire interviews were done in the Isthmus of Avalon, Bonavista, Fogo Island, Trepassey and New Waterford. After the information is written up, results will be shared with the communities involved.

The Natural Resource Depletion and Health project is funded over three years for $673,700 by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


 


 
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Next issue: December 11, 2003

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