Online Program

Epidemiologists at the Cutting Edge: Climate Change and "One Health" in the Northwest Arctic USA

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:42 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Dr. Steve Konkel, Ph.D., MCP, AICP, FRIPH, College of Business, Konkel and Associates, Anchorage, AK
Michael Black, Program Director, Division of Rural Utility Services, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Office of the Director, Anchorage, AK
Epidemiologists and environmental health practitioners are at the cutting edge addressing healthy, sustainable communities.  In America’s portion of the Arctic, north of the Northwest Arctic Circle (-66.5º latitude) the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB) is tackling issues related to sustainability of communities and the environment.  Changes in broad environmental conditions are driving socioeconomic impacts and affecting human health and stewardship of Alaskan communities.  Alaska has populations in remote locations that are facing substantial challenges in critical areas such as sustainable utilities, housing, subsistence, and attaining healthy populations.  Impacts in circumpolar regions like Alaska are more intense due geography of location as well as extremes in ranges of environmental conditions encountered. 

Providing energy and drinking water and sanitation services have concerned Alaska’s Governors since Alaskan Statehood. Communities are planning to meet energy and environmental quality challenges to make sustainable choices. The changing landscape includes a State of Alaska budgetary environment with an overwhelming dependence on oil revenue; the per barrel (bbl) of oil price dropped from the budget projection of $106.50 per bbl in April 2014 brought implications for the Alaska economy and state spending. These reduced oil prices have geopolitical ramifications as well.

Epidemiologists such as Dr. Tony McMichael have led the way in the exploration of the cause behind the causes, providing a framework and systematic approach to connect the environment and human health, truly a key mission in the environmental health field. As the Arctic Council is chaired by the United States for the next two years, new initiatives will address challenges and opportunities, including climate change and health, seen as most pressing for this region.  What started out as an international effort in environmental protection now is expanding to other areas of collaboration.  Another one of these is creating healthy, sustainable communities in the Circumpolar North countries. Oil and gas, maritime navigation, and fisheries are but three of the sectors where economic development and stewardship provide a frame for shared responsibilities. Epidemiologic indicators assist decision makers in developing solutions.

This presentation provides an overview of how to approach connecting environment and human health in a subset of Alaska’s rural and remote communities, while incorporating the emerging concept of “One Health” respecting traditions of reverence for biodiversity, traditional knowledge of ecosystems, and reliance on a subsistence-based economy.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Formulate programs aligned with Arctic Council and decision makers priorities for shared opportunities and challenges in the Northwest Arctic, Alaska

Keyword(s): Sustainability, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: R. STEVEN KONKEL PHD MCP has worked at two national energy laboratories and in Alaska's Office of the Governor during Hon. Gov. Jay Hammond’s 2nd Administration. He is currently an Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He served the IEA as Executive of the local organizing committee for IEA's 20th WCE 2014 from Feb. 2012 through March 2013, and as Co-Chair, Climate Change & Health with Dr. Eduardo Franco,
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.