Final meeting of the READI-supported ComMod Pilot Network of Excellence in Food Security Research.
The Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) supported Pilot Network in Food Security Research held its fourth and final workshop on 21 and 22 May in Phuket/Thailand. The 15 participants discussed application scenarios for the companion modeling-supported integrative and systemic perspective on health. The group’s deliberations started with the recognition that health issues (e.g. re-emerging diseases like rabies) are always more than just a human, an animal or an environmental problem. Instead, these aspects are frequently interwoven and also intricately social. Doing justice to this fact means that a variety of problems, perspectives and stakeholders have to be taken into account when trying to elaborate comprehensive public health responses to health challenges. Participatory modeling can be a technique to cope with the complexity of this endeavour, engaging stakeholders to produce reliable and shared representations of reality (models), which then serve to modify this reality. In order to deepen the group’s knowledge of this approach and related relevant techniques, Prof. Bruce Wilcox, eco-health expert at Mahidol University in Bangkok, outlined the history and core concepts of systems thinking. The participants then developed and visualised systemic representations of major animal health-related challenges in their countries.
The meeting concluded with an outline of a Participatory One Health Modeling (POHM). A related proposal for follow-up action states the objective of promoting sustainable health for all. It outlines that there is a need for a better understanding of the key social-ecological factors and their function/condition contribute to (re-) emerging diseases; a better understanding of existing surveillance and control systems; better/closer collaboration among multiple/multilevel sectors; an increased capacity of communities ‘early detection’ function; and integration and coordination between communities and involved sectors.
The ComMod final meeting was deliberately timed to take place back-to-back with the series of meetings of the ASEAN Committee for Science and Technology (COST). On 25 May, the ComMod coordinators were invited to present the Network to the the ASEAN COST Sub-Committee on Food Science & Technology.
“I use the ComMod approach in my teaching with agriculture students as well as in my research on food sharing practices in Thailand. It is not an easy task to work on a regional ASEAN level. However, it is very worthwhile to see about common challenges in different countries and then collaborate on this basis.“ (Dr (Ms) Dr Waraphon Phimpraphai, ComMod Network participant, Kasetsart University).
“I have been involved in eco-health initiatives in Southeast Asia for ten years, and this is one of the most substantial initiatives I have seen. It addresses how to combine participatory engagement and the modelling part, which is key. Both components together make the approach really strong” (Prof Bruce Wilcox, Mahidol University; Co-Director of the Global Health Asia initiative).
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