Australia secures International Health Conference

Posted by Isobel Drake on 26th September 2008

Australia has won the right to host an international health conference expected to attract hundreds of researchers and practitioners from round the world.The conference, “Seafood & Health 2010”, will be organised jointly by Australian and United States agencies.

Mr Roy Palmer, spokesman for the Australian organising committee, said the conference would review the latest research on the benefits of seafood and recommend how they could be applied to improve the health of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. “The previous three ‘Seafood & Health’ conferences have all been held in the Northern Hemisphere  —  twice in the United States and once in Norway  —  and winning the right to host this conference is a tremendous coup for Australia,” he said. “There is strong international competition to host these S&H conferences, and the fact it is coming to Australia reflects the keen scientific interest in the health benefits of seafood in this country and the hard work of some dedicated individuals.”

Mr Palmer added the conference had the potential to generate very significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of Australians of all ages. “This is not a fisheries conference, it is a health conference, but one where the participants all share a common interest in seafood, and it will communicate information about the very latest medical research into the health impacts of seafood,” he commented. “This is very much about prevention being better than cure, and about the right foods and lifestyle slashing the prevalence of so much chronic disease in Australia. That could literally save thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars a year in health costs.”

“New discoveries and a deeper understanding of the health benefits of seafood are occurring at a rapid rate and the conference will highlight the very latest information available. It will also look at the best ways to apply this knowledge to improve the health of everyone from the unborn to those facing the problems of old age,” Mr Palmer noted. “It will attract many of the world’s leading health researchers, medical practitioners, nutrition educators and policy-makers. Probably some 50 or more countries will be represented, from the Americas and Europe to Asia and the South Pacific, and it is expected to attract around 500 delegates.”

“As at previous S&H conferences, we hope to feature experts from institutions such as the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, the US National Institutes of Health, the Harvard School of Public Health, the London Metropolitan University’s Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition, as well as many others, including Australian researchers in the field,” he advised. “They will include leaders in fields such as cardiovascular disease, childhood development, nutrition and communication.  It will be a unique gathering of international health researchers.”

The successful bid began with the attendance of an Australian delegation at the Seafood & Health ’05 conference in Washington, DC in December 2005, which included Mr Palmer, Adelaide-based medical researcher Professor Les Cleland, specialist journalist Martin Bowerman and industry representative Gilbert Hanson.

“Since then, Martin Bowerman and I have been working through a number of government and industry organisations to bring the event here, realising the impact it could have on the health of all Australians to hear detailed information about cutting-edge international research,” Mr Palmer reported. “Those working with us have included Ted Loveday, Managing Director of Seafood Services Australia (SSA), Ron Edwards, Chair of the promotional body Seafood Experience Australia (SEA), and Jayne Gallagher, who is President of the International Association of Seafood Professionals and a representative of the Seafood Co-operative Research Centre.”

“This work included formation of Global Seafood & Health Network by SSA, which we have used to stay in touch with researchers across the globe and relay international research discoveries to specialist groups and the general public in Australia,” he continued. “At the same time, investment by the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research & Development Corporation in health-related initiatives has played an important support role.”

“These conferences were originated by the US Commerce Department’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In April this year, when Australia and the US both took part in the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels, meetings were held with NOAA representatives, and now it has been confirmed that Australia has won the rights to hold the conference in November 2010.”

Mr Palmer said it was yet to be decided where the conference would be held but there had been interest from a number of cities once it became known Australia was bidding for it. “The organising committee will meet shortly and one of our first agenda items will be calling for expressions of interest from State Governments and local authorities interested in hosting the conference,” he advised.