UOB launches the Environmental Health Research project: Bolstering Research Innovation and Community Support

UOB launches the Environmental Health Research project: Bolstering Research Innovation and Community Support

The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the University of Balamand organized a launching ceremony for the Environmental Health Research project: Bolstering Research Innovation and Community Support, powered by the GeoHealth Hub for Climate Change and Health in the Middle East and North Africa. The event was held on Thursday, August 25, 2022 at the University of Balamand, Dekwaneh Campus. 



This Project aims to empower the Faculty of Health Sciences, provide faculty and students with research opportunities, impart scientific knowledge, and improve the health and well-being of society, through scientific research and innovative approaches.



Dr. Huad Huijer, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, opened the ceremony with a speech on the FHS Center for Health and Research Project that intends to transform and improve education and health care, as well as provide quality health services. Dr. Huijer expressed her commitment to maintaining this academic exchange, even after the NIH funded program concludes. She continued “We have the required infrastructure, and we look forward to this international cooperation to set the GeoHealth Hub in motion… I have always been hopeful in my vision of establishing specialized centers in various fields, and this collaborative project, has paved the way for these centers in the field of environmental health. We rest assured that more innovative projects will be realized.”



In his intervention, Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy from the University of California, San Diego, discussed Climate Change in the EMR and the rapid increase in global temperatures, that results in significant shortage of water. He also underlined that the main objective of the project is to help the region and its institutions in a functional way by supporting its workers. Dr. Al-Delaimy pointed out that the project has competed with seven similar projects and received the support of international organizations.



Dr. Myriam Mrad, project manager at the university of Balamand, explained that the goal of the GeoHealth Hub is to address the effects of climate change on health and the environment, identify areas for development, and train higher education staff in Lebanon, Jordan, and Morocco in air pollution modelling, water quality and epidemiological methods. Mrad emphasized that this project has great transformative potential for the region because “regardless of the variables and nuances, most countries in the region suffer from similar environmental problems that can all be traced back to the same root cause: limited and ineffective environmental health policies.”



She added, “The development of environmental health strategies depends on the production of high-quality research and reliable evidence to guide and inform said strategies. Higher education institutions in the Eastern Mediterranean Region also play a major role in climate action, by raising awareness on the dangers of climate change, conducting environmental health research and increasing the number of experts in the field.



Dr. Georges Abi Tayeh, from the university of Saint Joseph, Hotel Dieu de France, offered the research results conducted in collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Balamand regarding the environmental exposure on infants and the effects of pollution on the health of the fetus and baby later on. 



As for Dr. Elias Warrak, President of the University of Balamand, he emphasized on the main goal of these research projects, which is to shed a light on the importance of taking care of the environment and keeping it clean. He stressed: “One cannot have peace of mind or a healthy body when that person is living in an environment so polluted that the air one breathes turns toxic and then is manifested in the form of diseases. Drinking water is equivalent to drinking toxins and food is often not safe for human consumption, all of which lead to all kinds and countless defects, and diseases. It’s about time we all realize that the most dangerous environmental risk are the clueless people messing with the environment just to feed their greed, ignoring the great danger they’re adding and the negative consequences of their actions”.


He then added: “The research projects we’re making official today, are in collaboration with international organizations and associations like NIH, USAID, WHO and a number of remarkable and most renowned international universities like the University of California San Diego, Harvard and Berkeley”.



Dr. Charbel Afif, representing the minister of environment, presented numbers to express how the negative effects on the environment in Lebanon cost 2.35 billion dollars in 2018, primarily including the negative health effects, which is equivalent to 4.4% of the national revenue at the time and that alone should be a motivation to decrease those numbers in scientific and thorough methods.  


Doctor Afif also pointed out that the environmental balance barely reaches 0.3% of the government’s balance making it close to impossible to always be present, monitoring and controlling all wrongdoings. 



In turn, Dr. Firas Abiad, Minister of Public Health in Lebanon, clarified that the reason why these cases and issues are not given the right amount of attention and significance, is that the discussion on global warming and its effects has not yet reached the attention of most citizens.

 


He expressed his delight in his collaboration with the university of Balamand at various occasions relating to national health and supporting the activities of the Ministry in primary health care services, as well as environmental and health activities.



Dr. Abiad then praised the university saying: “the University of Balamand is playing a leading role in finding hope and believing there is a future for this country, that we are a component of change and that our universities can be part of a collaboration of well-known and respected international universities like Harvard, California, Berkeley and others”.





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