July 22, 2024

Health Minds

Nourishing Minds, Elevating Health

Thurso-based scientists showcase ground-breaking healthcare project at European Union in Brussels

3 min read

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Professor Stuart Gibb and Dr Lydia Niemi of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso at the UK's One Health Mission to the EU in Brussels.Professor Stuart Gibb and Dr Lydia Niemi of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso at the UK's One Health Mission to the EU in Brussels.
Professor Stuart Gibb and Dr Lydia Niemi of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso at the UK’s One Health Mission to the EU in Brussels.

Scientists based in Thurso have showcased their work on the environmental impact of healthcare to the European Union in Brussels.

The academics from the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), presented their work on pollution of natural waterways by pharmaceuticals, an internationally recognised Scottish project, to EU Commission staff, government representatives and MEPs.

Sponsored by the Scottish Government, Prof Stuart Gibb and Dr Lydia Niemi showcased the work of the One Health Breakthrough Project (OHBP) in reducing the environmental impact of human healthcare.

The event held at the UK Ambassador’s residence, formed part of the UK’s One Health Mission to the EU.

One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognises that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment are closely linked and inter-dependent.

It also recognises that we must work across disciplinary, organisational, and national boundaries to address complex challenges such as food security, climate change, environmental pollution, and infectious disease.

The ERI team based at UHI North, West and Hebrides in Thurso presented work addressing the pollution of natural waters by human pharmaceuticals – an internationally recognised public health and environmental issue.

The work was undertaken through the One Health Breakthrough Project, a sector leading initiative involving the ERI together with NHS Highland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water, and the Centre of Expertise for Waters.

The partnership works with key regional and national stakeholders across the water, environment, and health sectors in Scotland, with a commitment towards creating a sustainable, non-toxic environment.

Professor Stuart Gibb said: “The work of OHBP has received widespread national recognition and we are grateful to both the Scottish and UK governments for providing a platform to share it with European parliamentarians, policy makers and agency representatives. We were astounded and delighted by the level of interest we received and aim to capitalise on that as we develop the work of OHBP and its work with international collaborators.”

Lydia Rohmer, principal and chief executive of UHI North, West and Hebrides, said: “Our researchers at the Environmental Research Institute are at the cutting edge of research into the environmental impact of human healthcare and how we can reduce this.

“This work has already had a positive impact and we look forward to developing this further following international interest in our research.”

Professor Neil Simco, UHI’s deputy principal academic and research, said: “At UHI we embrace the principles of One Health and recognise its importance and potential in addressing contemporary challenges. In response we will establish a ‘One Health’ Hub to couple activity expertise across UHI that will promote our potential for growth, leadership and impact.”

The One Health Fair will be followed up with a Climate and Health event, hosted by the UK Mission to the EU in March 2024 from across the EU.

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