International experts from around the world met in Yerevan on April 22-23 for a two-day scientific symposium at the American University of Armenia (AUA) on mining and construction related environmental and occupational health in transition economies.
The AUA School of Public Health and the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment in cooperation with the Collegium Ramazzini, an independent international academy advancing the study and practice of occupational and environmental health and safety, organized the symposium titled “Emerging Issues in Environmental and Occupational Health: Mining and Construction in Transition Economies.” The symposium aimed to improve the understanding of how evidence-based scientific findings can be applied strategically to protect workers’ and community health.
The symposium covered such important topics as: the World Health Organization’s (WHO) resolution on workers’ health and plan of action in the WHO European Region;human carcinogens,especially those related to mining; preventing mining-related illness in miners and the community; environmental and work-related cancer, and preventing work-related illnesses in construction workers.
The audience included experts from the Ministries of Health and Environmental Protection and local government offices, a broad spectrum of occupational and environmental health scientists and professionals working in universities and non-governmental organizations, faculty, students and researchers from AUA and other universities, representatives of private industry and civil activist groups.
Dr. Morando Soffritti, Secretary General of Collegium Ramazzini, Italy, stated “On behalf of the Collegium Ramazzini and of the President Dr. Philip Landrigan, I wish to thank the organizers for the important symposium organized in Yerevan and for the great success for the number of participants and the very informative scientific contributions presented by all the speakers.”
Dr. Kurt Straif, Director of IARC Monographs, International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, France, noted “It was an important and well organized scientific meeting to raise awareness and to reduce inequity.”
Dr. Margrit von Braun, Dean and Professor Emerita, University of Idaho, USA,added“To address safe mining we need to have strong networks of all the interested parties – these include universities like AUA to provide independent scientific research, NGOs, political leaders, community members, mining companies, laborers, regulators, medical professionals and the media. At this conference we stimulated open discussion of the challenges faced in Armenia and the world as economies transition and metal prices continue to increase. Lessons learned from mining and smelting sites around the world can help Armenia develop policies and take actions that ensure healthy communities and safe working conditions.”
The symposium was possible thanks to the following organizations for sponsorship and in-kind support: Collegium Ramazzini, American University of Armenia, World Health Organization, USA National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, TerraGraphics International Foundation, Blacksmith Institute, and Counterpart International. The Civil Society/Local Government Support (CSLGS) Program, a Counterpart International project in partnership with and generously supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supported participation of 33 participants from different marzes of Armenia, includingrepresentatives of local government offices and NGOs.
The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve the health of the populace and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals and others to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.
The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment (AUA ACE) is a research center of the American University of Armenia. AUA ACE promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. AUA ACE’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, greening the built environment, clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as information technology and the environment.
The Collegium Ramazzini is an independent, international academy founded in 1982 by Irving J. Selikoff, CesareMaltoni and other eminent scientists. It is comprised of 180 internationally renowned experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health. The mission of the Collegium Ramazzini is to advance the study of occupational and environmental health issues and to be a bridge between the world of scientific discovery and the social and political centers which must act on the discoveries of science to protect public health.