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Public Health: The Key to the Successful Opening up and Economic Development of the Arctic
9 April 2019
10:00—11:30
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Arctic development must rely on a comprehensive scientific basis

We must provide timely response to the threats that have not yet materialized, but are preventable with the level of knowledge and intelligence that we have — Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

The development of scientific research must be one step ahead. <...> Admittedly, although the Russian programmes and strategies for the socio-economic development of the Arctic zone have been created, the scientific development still lags behind, and there are no targeted research programmes — Igor Bobrovnitskiy, Deputy Director, Center for Strategic Planning and Management of Biomedical Health Risks of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

Strategic goals that have been set for the development of the Arctic <...> require comprehensive assessment and analysis of the public health situation. The administration of the Northern Sea Route and the developers of gas and oil fields must commission scientific research — Sergey Gorbanev, Director General, North-West Public Health Research Center.

Sustainable development issues are key to the Arctic

There is an impact on a person’s health through nature, through the environment; therefore, very close attention should be paid to the environment specifically — Galina Degteva, Director, Research Institute of Arctic Medicine, Northern State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

The concept of ‘One Health’ covers all conditions of life, especially in the Arctic, where people are closely connected with the environment and nature. ‘One Health’ means health of the environment, plants, animals and also humans — Arja Rautio, Vice-President Research at the University of the Arctic, University of Oulu.

We must begin with issues of education and knowledge, and work on sustainable development — Jon-Oyvind Odland, Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Secretary, International Union for Circumpolar Health.

ISSUES
Climate change poses a threat to health of the Arctic residents

Climate change leads to spread of infectious diseases: cattle burial grounds in the Arctic zone can be a serious danger, especially if the melting ice uncovers anthrax-infected burial grounds — Galina Degteva, Director, Research Institute of Arctic Medicine, Northern State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

Ticks are moving north. If we monitor the situation every 9 to 10 years, we see how ticks actively occupy the areas in the north. This happens because of the global warming <...> Indigenous people encounter infections that are new to them; new microorganisms arrive, and they may behave somewhat differently than in other places — Areg Totolian, Director, Institut Pasteur in St. Petersburg for Research in Epidemiology and Microbiology of Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

The issue of pollutants in the Arctic is important for building a healthcare system for indigenous peoples. Those substances accumulate in fatty tissue, and indigenous people eat fatty foods, because they need calories — Yngvar Thomassen, Senior Adviser, Department of Chemical and Biological Work Environment, National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI).

Unbalanced nutrition in the region

Children living in the Arctic are accustomed to traditional food, while shipped food <...> is not always a good thing. <...> Developing the Arctic means working on a fly-in/fly-out basis. With adaptation and re-adaptation, <...> shift workers’ nutrition is very important too — Galina Degteva, Director, Research Institute of Arctic Medicine, Northern State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

I would recommend paying more attention to healthcare issues of the Arctic population, because currently they experience a serious shortage of iodine and other elements. And, of course, this is especially important for new-borns — Yngvar Thomassen, Senior Adviser, Department of Chemical and Biological Work Environment, National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI).

SOLUTIONS
Training specialists in the field of occupational health and safety for the Arctic

An application has been submitted to the Ministry of Education and Science to establish a new major: occupational and environment medicine, which would combine the prevention of both occupational diseases and diseases caused by adverse environmental factors — Igor Bobrovnitskiy, Deputy Director, Center for Strategic Planning and Management of Biomedical Health Risks of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

Our project aims to provide knowledge on vector-borne infections related to diagnosis and climate, and to shape policies, mitigation and control measures for zoonotic pathogens — Ashild Andreassen, Senior Scientist, Department of Virology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Developing of international cooperation in researching the problems of the Arctic

We need a closer exchange of information in this region, both scientific and practical; we need a strategy for scientific search — Anna Popova, Head, Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.

Norway and Russia have a common interest in monitoring microclimate effects on the distribution of vectors and pathogens, and in the study of genetic diversity — Ashild Andreassen, Senior Scientist, Department of Virology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS