Humans shield themselves from the environment in various types of shelters. These afford protection from wind, rain, and extremes of temperature. They also provide a modicum of privacy as well as safer storage space for personal possessions. What is often not realized is that humans can guard themselves from environmental health risks with a properly constructed shelter. Poorly constructed quarters on the other hand may present favourable conditions for disease vectors and, in fact, increase the risk of acquiring disease.
In Paraguay, scientists from two institutions (the Appropriate Technology Centre at the Universidad Catolica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion and the Health Sciences Research Institute at the Universidad Nacional de Asuncion) developed a multidisciplinary project to combat the incidence of Chagas disease. The team analysed construction techniques and building materials. It also carefully considered popular knowledge both of the disease and of shelter fabrication. The project demonstrated that the transmission of Chagas' disease could be interrupted by simple interventions preventing the infestation of homes by the triatomid vector. The project resulted in more pleasant homes, the interventions were sustainable and the community was motivated to participate. Thus empowered by new knowledge, communities can take control of their own health. A similar project took place in Brazil. Taken together, the Brazil and Paraguay studies show that community-based approaches and simple technologies can empower rural communities to control a serious environmental health risk. Following both studies, the Ministries of Housing and Health of both Brazil and Paraguay have indicated their interest in incorporating these results into their respective primary health care strategies.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a unique, experimental research work of the Union of International Associations. It is currently published as a searchable online platform with profiles of world problems, action strategies, and human values that are interlinked in novel and innovative ways. These connections are based on a range of relationships such as broader and narrower scope, aggravation, relatedness and more. By concentrating on these links and relationships, the Encyclopedia is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the complex and expansive sphere of global issues and their interconnected nature.
The initial content for the Encyclopedia was seeded from UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations. UIA’s decades of collected data on the enormous variety of association life provided a broad initial perspective on the myriad problems of humanity. Recognizing that international associations are generally confronting world problems and developing action strategies based on particular values, the initial content was based on the descriptions, aims, titles and profiles of international associations.
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