Health & Well-being Collaboration Team

Enhancing understanding of health determinants and improving the well-being of Arctic residents.

Scope of activities

The Health & Well-Being Community of Practice was created under the Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 to enhance understanding of health determinants and improve the well-being of Arctic residents. It continues to meet and contribute to the goals and objectives of the Arctic Research Plan 2022-2026.


Team leaders

Sarah Yoder
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (Website)

Dana Bruden
Centers for Disease Control

Michael Banyas
NIMHD


Performance elements from the Arctic research plan

1.1 Support the health of Arctic residents through research on public health needs, disparities, and delivery.

  • 1.1.1 Initiate a Federally-funded project with local partners researching the feasibility and success rate in the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C in remote Arctic communities.
  • 1.1.2 Conduct research on preventive measures for COVID-19 disease and evaluate lessons learned for future pandemic preparedness in the Arctic. Prepare a report on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations specifically within Alaska.
  • 1.1.3 Continue research on air quality and human health. This will include an evaluation of outdoor air quality and health outcomes in Alaskan communities and a Federally-funded, local-partner-conducted evaluation of interventions to improve indoor air quality and decrease respiratory symptoms in children. Research will be shared and summarized in webinars, publications, and reports.
  • 1.1.4 Along with local health partners, conduct research to support understanding and awareness of emerging zoonotic disease threats identified in the CDC's One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization for Alaska workshop report.
  • 1.1.5 Along with collaborating partners, investigate human illness associated with harmful algal blooms (HABs), and develop and distribute preventive messaging based on what is learned.

1.2 Address emerging threats to food safety and access, as well as food and nutrition security in the Arctic, through research that addresses how climate and environmental change is affecting the abundance, accessibility, and use of traditional foods and traditional ways of life.

  • 1.2.9 Host a session at the 2023 Arctic One Health, One Future conference to advance understanding of causes and consequences of emerging threats to Arctic food safety and security, and identify high-priority research needs.

1.3 Provide research and technical support for water and sanitation infrastructure.

  • 1.3.2 Develop a publicly accessible database for information on drinking water contaminants (including PFAS) and effective treatment processes. The database will be of use to water treatment operators, regulatory agencies, researchers, and treatment process consultants and designers. It could also support responses to emergency contamination events.
  • 1.3.3 Support research on the feasibility of PFAS treatment for surface water and groundwater in the Arctic. This will help inform a strategy on PFAS remediation of contaminated sites.

4.1 Summarize currently available data and information requirements associated with hazard and risk mitigation, adaptation, and response efforts. Synthesize community-led activities and information to identify potential needs for future efforts.

  • 4.1.1 Conduct a study to create an asset map of existing infrastructure as a baseline for understanding how to equip a community to be resilient to climate impacts. Facilitate sharing resources about and mitigation techniques for known threats to infrastructure impacted by climate change.
  • 4.1.2 Share findings of deliverable 4.1.1 as a means (1) to spur additional research and science communication aimed at addressing unmet needs for planning, prevention, response, and recovery and (2) to inform time-sensitive decision-making and planning processes.

4.2 Update and improve the “Statewide Threat Assessment: Identification of Threats from Erosion, Flooding, and Thawing Permafrost in Remote Alaska Communities.”

  • 4.2.1 Undertake a study to identify the top 10 threats/hazards to communities and critical remote state and Federal government infrastructure in the state of Alaska that should be included in the Statewide Threat Assessment. This might include coastal and river erosion, flooding, thawing permafrost, and changes in the seasonal snowpack.
  • 4.2.2 Upon completion of 4.2.1, establish a data collection and collation plan to include mechanisms to collect threat/hazard data that may not be readily available.
  • 4.2.3 Collect and integrate disparate threat/hazard information and perform modeling and analysis to understand where natural and human-made threats and hazards pose a risk to Arctic communities.

DATA 1 Encourage and implement FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) and CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) data management principles in the Arctic.

  • DATA 1.1 Identify verified points of contact (e.g., agency champions, data practitioners, Arctic residents, Indigenous organizations) and their areas of expertise and interests for working with the data team on exploring and implementing FAIR and CARE in Arctic data management. As part of developing the points of contact, identify and track representation across many axes of diversity (demographics, disciplines/sectors, IARPC experience, career stage, and others) to ensure a diverse and representative group of contributors. The data team will check in with these groups regularly to ensure the points of contact are up to date.
  • DATA 1.3 Based on input from engagement activities, develop and update centralized documentation of thematic areas of interest, ongoing activities, and key documents and resources that can inform deliverables and future Biennial Implementation Plans.
  • DATA 1.4 Convene quarterly seminars, discussions, and training on FAIR and CARE data management in the Arctic. Ensure a diverse group of presenters and contributors are represented in these activities.

PRILR 1 Fulfill Federal requirement to consult with Federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations.

  • PRILR 1.1 Create a best practices document on meaningful consultation and engagement on Arctic research with Alaska Indigenous communities that is applicable to all Federal agencies.
  • PRILR 1.2 Evaluate the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic 2018, and update as needed based on the evaluation.
  • PRILR 1.3 Develop and deliver training for agencies to implement the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic.

PRILR 2 Engage Arctic communities and individuals in research in a way that is meaningful to them.

  • PRILR 2.1 Create a training toolkit for scientists that can be self-guided and used as needed. Topics may include cross-cultural communication, consultation, participatory research, Indigenous Knowledge, overview of Indigenous culture groups, formal agreements, and how to contract and consult with Indigenous companies and individuals.
  • PRILR 2.2 Create a report of examples where IARPC member agencies have engaged Indigenous Knowledge holders in research.
  • PRILR 2.3 Request that each Priority Area Collaboration Team host regular meetings that meaningfully engage with Indigenous leaders, groups, and/or communities. This includes developing a list of contacts to support requests for engagement or tracking engagement with Indigenous participation.
  • PRILR 2.4 Analyze and develop a report on broader impacts of science/research teams on Indigenous health and resilience.
  • PRILR 2.5 Hold interagency meetings/workshops to identify mechanisms for Federal agencies to effectively communicate science plans and findings among themselves and with communities.

PRILR 3 Develop guidance for agencies to consistently apply participatory research and Indigenous leadership in research.

  • PRILR 3.1 Co-define “Indigenous leadership in research” with Tribes, Indigenous organizations, and Federal agencies; and integrate into the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic and its training toolkit and best practices documents.
  • PRILR 3.2 Hold interagency meetings/workshops to identify methods to streamline contracting/agreements and compensation processes to make co-stewardship and co-production in research more equitable and achievable.
  • PRILR 3.3 Convene discussions to identify mechanisms to foster equitable pathways for Indigenous leadership in research.
  • PRILR 3.4 Identify best practices for Federal agencies to support capacity for Tribes and Indigenous Knowledge holders in research. Distribute guidance on best practices to IARPC agencies.
  • PRILR 3.5 Ensure consistent terminology for Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and Local Knowledge for IARPC. Suggest primary language for IARPC be Indigenous Knowledge.

Accomplishments

Under the 2017-2021 Arctic Research Plan, the Health & Well-Being Community of Practice:

  • Co-facilitated quarterly One-Health meetings with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).
  • Supported the Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network to expand to over 5,000 members representing every continent and more than 800 communities.
  • Supported (through EPA grant funding) the Alaska Native Maternal Organics Monitoring Study, led by ANTHC.
  • Supported work that increased understanding of how climate change and human activities are impacting development and subsistence.
  • Hosted discussions about the Rural Alaska Monitoring Program, which tested the feasibility of a village-based, resident-operated environmental monitoring program in Bering Strait communities.
  • Hosted discussions about water and sanitation challenges and innovations in the Arctic and supported workshops hosted by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission on this topic.
  • Highlighted research results on the health impacts of poor indoor air quality, especially on children.
  • Created materials, including a museum exhibition, a book, and an archival project, to connect Arctic residents with Arctic heritage.
  • Supported projects focused on sustainable development among Arctic communities.
  • Hosted discussions related to food security and rural water and sanitation research.
  • Hosted discussions about violence in Alaska Native communities, Village Public Safety Officers, and adverse childhood experiences in Alaska children.
  • Supported and highlighted projects on prevention and reduction of suicidal behavior and substance abuse among Alaska Native youth, including initiatives like RISING SUN (Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups).
  • Hosted discussions about telehealth in the Arctic.

For a full summary of the Health and Well-Being Community of Practice’s accomplishments under the 2017-2021 Arctic Research Plan, see the 2021 Performance Element Summary Statements.