Linking Health and Biodiversity with Griffith University and SPREP

A group of 18 undergraduate and postgraduate health science students today learned more about the link between health and biodiversity during a visit to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The students study a range of disciplines such as Public Health, Nutrition and Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Exercise Science, Physiotherapy and Biomedical Science at the Griffith University in Australia.

The group, on a three week Public Health tour of Samoa to gain first-hand experience of population health in the country, chose SPREP for one of their site visits, to learn more about the link between public health and the environment in the Pacific.

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Mr Rahul Chand, ABS Project Capacity Building Officer, presenting to the group from Griffith University.
Photo: SPREP

Mr Rahul Chand, Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) project Capacity Building Officer, and Ms Ofa Maasi-Kaisamy, ABS Legal Adviser, presented to the group on Health and Biodiversity and the significant role of Access and Benefit Sharing.

The objective of the ABS Project, a three year Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project implemented by UN Environment and executed by SPREP, is to support Pacific island countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol and to implement key measures to make the Protocol operational in the region.

The project will empower Pacific island countries to facilitate access to their genetic resources and secure benefit-sharing in a fair and equitable way in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.

Mr Chand said of the visit, "We had good interactions with the students, not only on the core subject of Access and Benefit Sharing but also on a range of other topics which they were curious about such as pollution and climate change."

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The group before departing SPREP at the end of their visit. Photo: SPREP

Ms Ernesta Sofija of Griffith University said of the visit, "The environment is a key determinant of population health. The sole purpose of our visit to SPREP was to achieve a better understanding of the Pacific environment, any issues affecting integrity, and the work done by SPREP in this area."

The group also visited the Ministry of Health and other organisations while in Samoa, where they were able to meet with the locals and gain a better understanding of life in Samoa. They return to Australia at the end of this week.

For more information please contact Ms Ernesta Sofija of Griffith University at e.sofija@griffith.edu.au or Ms Leanne Moananu of SPREP at leannem@sprep.org.
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