Essay: Why I should have the chance to interview the world’s top experts on health and the environment

very week, my inbox brims with e-mails from Québec, West Africa, and the Maghreb. Almost one year ago, the Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la Francophonie asked me to contribute to Médiaterre, an international Web portal on sustainable development [ www.mediaterre.org ]. This initiative is spearheaded by the Organisation mondiale de la Francophonie and attracts some 8 500 visitors from 108 countries daily. Every week, I write news stories on climate change, water contamination, air pollution, and other environmental issues. And every week, I receive e-mails from readers suggesting topics on which they would like more information.

The same question often arises: what is the impact of a given environmental issue on my health or the health of my family? Readers are concerned with the intimate link that exists between ecosystem and human health. And though the connection is clear, there is little information available to help them better define it.

Taking part in the International EcoHealth Forum next December will give me the opportunity to learn more on the leading research underscoring the linkages between public health, ecosystems, and social and economic conditions. Médiaterre readers would greatly benefit from this information, and the special focus on developing nations will be of particular interest to the vast majority of readers in the francophonie.

The EcoHealth Forum will also provide me with ideas and material for other publications to which I contribute. In fact, as of October, I will be penning a monthly environmental column in Châtelaine – the most widely-read women’s magazine in Québec – and the issues discussed at the Merida conference will probably turn out to be valuable content for future articles on original and relevant topics.

Québec Science, L’actualité, and Protégez-Vous, the other publications for which I write on a regular basis, would also most likely be interested in publishing articles on the links between health and the environment.

Relying on my knowledge of French, English, and Spanish, I hope to make many new contacts in Merida. Through this new network, I will be able to remain abreast of the latest research and information in the environmental health field long after the Forum.