About the AHHI
What is the AHHI?
Where is AHHI now?
Health concerns of the Arctic people
AHHI's featured areas of research
What are the goals of the AHHI?
How will AHHI meet their goals?
Who is coordinating AHHI?
Securing the arctic human health legacy of the IPY
AHHI proposal (39 KB, pdf)
The Arctic Human Health Initiative (AHHI) is an Arctic Council IPY coordinating project. It highlights human health concerns of the Arctic people.
AHHI’s goal is to build on existing Arctic Council and International Union for Circumpolar Health human health research. To do so, AHHI will expand research networks that will enhance:
- Surveillance and monitoring of health issues of concern to Arctic peoples,
- Standardization of methods between countries, and
- Collaboration and coordination of research activities.
As of March 31, 2009, the official end of the IPY, AHHI represented a total of 38 proposals, including 21 individual Expressions of Intent (EoI), 9 full proposals, and 10 national initiatives, submitted from lead investigators from the US, Canada, Greenland, Norway Finland, Sweden, and the Russian Federation.
The AHHI currently monitors the progress of 28 individual active human health projects in the following thematic areas:
- Health network expansion (5)
- Infectious Disease Research (6)
- Environmental Health Research (7)
- Behavioral and Mental Health Research (3)
- Outreach Education and Communication (5)
While some projects were completed in 2008–2009, others will continue beyond the IPY. Individual project details can be viewed at the Arctic Health Website. The AHHI proved to be an effective exercise in identifying and featuring health research activities during IPY. The information was shared via websites, circumpolar health supplements, congress presentations, and within peer reviewed journals. The positioning of the project within the Arctic Council also allowed for information to be shared at the level of the Sustainable Development Working Group. The sharing of activities and projects raised the profile of health research and highlighted the need within Arctic Council for there to be ongoing access to research findings and experts engaged in circumpolar health research. To this end, strengths of the AHHI were identified and formalized through the development of the Arctic Human Health Expert Group, a government appointed advisory to the Sustainable Development Working Group (Parkinson, 2010a, 2010b).
Significant health disparities still remain between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in the Arctic. Indigenous Arctic populations experience:
- lower life expectancy
- higher infant mortality
- higher rates of suicide
- higher rates of infectious diseases
- higher rates of some cancers
Other health concerns of the Arctic people include the impact of environmental contaminants and climate change on both their health and their environment.
AHHI will feature research activities that focus on the health impacts of:
- Anthropogenic pollution,
- Modernization and lifestyle changes,
- Climate change,
- Infectious and chronic diseases,
- Intentional and unintentional injuries, and
- Early interventions on disease and social behavior later in life.
AHHI seeks to “increase awareness and visibility of human health concerns of Arctic peoples, foster human health research, and promote health strategies that will improve health and well being of all Arctic residents.”
AHHI will meet its goal by:
- Advancing the joint human health agenda of its partners,
- Expanding research networks in the Arctic,
- Fostering research activities related to its areas of interest,
- Promoting education, outreach and communication,
- Promoting the translation of research into action, and
- Promoting the strategic direction of Arctic Human Health.
AHHI is coordinated by an international steering committee with representation from the International Union for Circumpolar Health, human health working groups, and permanent participants of the Arctic Council. The Steering Committee will monitor and report on the progress of human health research initiatives during the IPY.
The aim of IPY activities was to harness the resources and intellect across the circumpolar regions and leave a legacy of data, observing sites, facilities and systems to support ongoing polar research and monitoring, and to provide value to future generations. (Rapley et al, 2004). During IPY it is evident that health research productivity increased and many collaborative research projects were started because of national interest and the availability of new funding programs dedicated to human health research. Other projects were possible because agencies and organizations redirected resources and in-kind support to ensure the success of this human health initiative. Through these activities networks grew, infrastructure was built, health research institutes were established, training opportunities were provided, data projects were initiated and mechanisms to improve knowledge dissemination were supported and developed. Unique features of health research included the engagement of community and end user stakeholders in the research process to optimize relevancy and uptake of findings. A number of networks, policies and best practices to enhance research impacts have been developed and leave elements of frameworks for best practices in circumpolar health research.
The legacy for health research lies in the mechanisms and framework which support the interconnectivity from polar communities to the international forums of decision makers. It is through these initiatives from community based networks, to SAON coordinated projects, to Arctic Council advisories, circumpolar institutes and their affiliated networks of stakeholders and partners that value for future generations will be secured. Ongoing critical development of, and support for, these initiatives must be secured throughout the circumpolar regions. A broad informed base will ensure ongoing uptake and analysis of data to the highest standard, as well as ensuring dissemination of findings so best practices may inform the development of government policies and clinical guidelines which influence health and wellbeing. It is the networks and institutes which support these connections that will combine perspectives and knowledge bases required to address the complexities of the polar environments, the multifaceted nature of health determinants and will ultimately inform solutions to promote health across the polar regions.
© 2006, Arctic Human Health Initiatives
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