By Tsogtbaatar Byambaa
Knowledge translation effort by SFU on population health inequities resulting from mining in Mongolia is gaining ground
For FHS global health researchers Craig Janes, Kitty Corbett, and Jeremy Snyder, along with PhD Mongolian student Tsogtbaatar Byambaa, and professors Lory Laing (University of Calgary) and Colleen Davison (University of Ottawa), the rapid development of mining by foreign, including Canadian, corporations in Mongolia presents challenges for population health.
With three grants to date from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, this group has undertaken a long-term research program to assist Mongolians monitor and assess the effects of mining development in Mongolia on the population’s health and the subsequent regulation of the industry. Beginning in 2009, Janes’ research team have engaged Mongolian governmental, non-governmental and industry stakeholders in dialogue over the health impact of mining development projects and mechanisms for protecting public health and the environment.
In 2010, the team went on to conduct an evidence-based policy-level intervention designed to support, foster, and encourage the development of a health impact assessment methodology for the mining sector that applies a social determinants and health equity framework. The intervention:
- Worked with relevant stakeholders to develop knowledge of the scope and rationale for conducting health impact assessments in the mining sector, drawing on international research and Canadian expertise in mining impact assessments in First Nations and aboriginal communities.
- Worked with stakeholders from Mongolian communities, policy makers and the mining sector to develop recommendations, a methodology, and toolkit for implementing a social determinants of health and equity-focused health impact assessment relevant to the Mongolian context. Key successes from this work include a Mongolian-language health equity impact assessment tool for the mining sector, and a case study of one mining project to show how a social determinants and equity-focused health impact might work in practice.
- Provided evidence-based support for and encouraged ongoing efforts to broaden the 2006 Mongolia Minerals Law to include regulatory language that would require health impact assessments of all companies working in Mongolia.
In 2012, Janes’ team has expanded their knowledge translation work to focus on key policy makers and the policy making process: they are currently holding high level meetings within the Mongolian Ministry of Health on strategic planning around mining and health, and providing capacity-building workshops to a multi-sectoral working group on assessing the health impacts of mining and other large development projects. In 12-17 March 2012, the team has brought key Mongolian policymakers to Vancouver to meet with Canadian experts on mining and health from the BC Ministry of Health, BC Centers for Disease Control, and Health Canada.
About Tsogtbaatar Byambaa
Dr. Tsogtbaatar Byambaa is the Project Coordinator for the CIHR funded Equity-Focused Health Impact Assessment Tools and Methodologies in Mongolia: Supporting and Scaling-Up Local Experiences project. He is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC. He received his MSc in Health Administration and International Health Policy from University of Colorado. He is a family physician by background who has worked on several public health projects in Mongolia, including serving as a coordinator for the Global Fund supported HIV/AIDS project of Ministry of Health in Mongolia. His research interest focuses on managing the potentially adverse public health consequences of development sector in developing settings. Tsogtbaatar Byambaa is currently engaged in research projects on health impact assessment policy development, medical tourism and air pollution.