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Top speakers confirmed for conference

A top line-up of speakers from around the world and New Zealand has been confirmed for the world health promotion conference in Rotorua, New Zealand next year.

The theme of the 23rd IHUPE (International Union for Health Promotion and Education) Health conference to be held from April 7 to 11 is Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All.

The Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand (HPF) is co-hosting the conference which is expected to be attended by 2000 delegates from all over the world..

Co-chairs of the conference Sione Tui’tahi, Executive Director, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and Graham Robertson, President, IUHPE, say the conference will be invaluable for those in the sector to exchange knowledge and build networks in order to: share strategies, policies and practices; present results and assess progress; influence policy and bring about positive change and promote health and equity amongst all people.

The chance to hear from internationally-recognised speakers such as Professor Anthony Capon from the University of Sydney and Professor Fran Baum from Flinders University, Adelaide is also too good an opportunity to miss.

Prof Capon is the world’s first professor of planetary health and an authority on environmental health and health promotion while Prof Baum from Flinders University, Adelaide is one of Australia’s leading researchers on the social and economic determinants of health.

Prof Capon, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Brisbane with his family when he was a young boy, is a public health physician with more than 25 years of senior leadership experience, spanning academic, policy and practice roles.

“Planetary health is about safeguarding the health and wellbeing of current and future generations through good stewardship of Earth’s natural systems and by rethinking the way we feed, move, house, power, and care for the world (something missing here?), “ Professor Capon told Lancet recently.

Capon thinks that, “the central challenge of planetary health is to greatly reduce per capita resource consumption in high-income countries (HICs) to make room for further sustainable development in other countries”.

He also told the journal that: “If everyone in the world lived as the average Australian does, we would need four or five planets … we urgently need to contract per capita consumption in HICs to about 20% of what it is now so that all people can have a fair share of the Earth. And with less focus on materialism, we may indeed lead more fulfilling, and healthier, lives in tune with nature for the world.”

The former director of the global health institute at United Nations University (UNU-IIGH) has also since 2008 advised the International Council for Science on its global interdisciplinary science programme on health and wellbeing in the changing urban environment using systems approaches.

Prof Baum is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Foundation Director of the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University.

Prof Baum was named in the Queen’s Birthday 2016 Honours List as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to higher education as an academic and public health researcher, as an advocate for improved access to community health care, and to professional organisations”.

Prof Baum told ABC Online, in an article on mental illness and poverty last month, that reducing levels of mental distress, and closing health inequalities, would require a rethinking of Australia’s direction as a society.

“I would have thought in the last 30 years, when rates of anxiety and depression have gone up in Western countries, there’s some clear clues from the economic system and society we’re creating.”

This system includes a dramatic rise in precarious and casualised work, a trend Prof Baum says could exacerbate pressures of powerlessness and poverty.

According to ABC Online she is writing a book on the subject of health inequality, and one of the unavoidable conclusions of her research is that health reform is political.

Her preliminary recommendations include reducing economic inequality, making public education free and available to all and providing more affordable and secure housing, to name a few.

Prof Baum holds grants from the National Health & Medical Research Council and the Australia Research Council which are considering a wide range of aspects of health inequities and social determinants of health.  These grants include an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Policies for Health Equity of which she is one of the two co-directors.

Her book, The New Public Health (4th ed. published January 2016 Oxford University Press), is widely cited and used in many public health courses.

Other speakers confirmed for the conference are:  Anne Bunde-Birouste, director of the UNSW Yunus Social Business for Health Hub; Dr Trevor Hancock, a public health physician and health promotion consultant from the University of Victoria, Canada; Patrick Mwesigye Sewa, founder and team leader at the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum; Colin Tukuitonga, Director General of the Pacific Community and Dr Stanley Vollant who practises  at the Notre-Dame community hospital in Montreal.

The IUHPE world conferences are renowned events for bringing together leading professionals in all corners of the world to take stock of the present state of knowledge and experiences, bring forward future challenges and shape the agenda to advance developments in health promotion.

Every three years, the conference defines the “state of the art” in health promotion practice, research, and theory.

The aim of the 2019 conference is to provide an unparalleled opportunity to link and demonstrate the contribution of health promotion to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and to acknowledge the way SDGs contribute to improvements in health and wellbeing.

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