By Byomkesh Talukder, Travel Scholar and Speaker Ambassador at the 2019 Planetary Health Annual Meeting
I am glad that I got the opportunity to connect with Professor Odipo Osano of the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Eldoret, Kenya, at the 2019 Planetary Health Annual Meeting at Stanford University, California, USA. I talked with him about several planetary health issues on many occasions throughout the meeting. We also talked about his career path, his future, and his thoughts about planetary health issues.
After he graduated with a degree in veterinary science, he joined the Department of Environmental Health and Biology at Moi University, Kenya as a senior lecturer. He did his PhD in the Department of Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Professor Odipo has wide expertise in topics related to Sustainability, Water Quality, Environmental Impact Assessment, Molecular Genetics, Ecology, Environmental Analysis, Environmental Pollution, Environmental Management and Biotechnology.
From his field experiences, he saw how ecological degradation is related to the health of the people of Kenya. For example, he observed that the health of the soil has a direct influence on crop production and human health. He believes environmental toxicology and health is one of the areas that is missing in the broader discussion of planetary health.
He has done significant research in various areas of planetary health, ranging from food security to environmental exposure. One of the most important things about Professor Odipo is that he has been active in developing a planetary health community of practice at the University of Eldoret and will be helping to lead the emergence of a Planetary Health East Africa regional hub. During the conference, he spoke in the collaborative satellite session entitled “How to Build a Planetary Health Regional Hub”.
Professor Odipo believes that making planetary health issues part of primary education is one of the ways to create awareness among future generations to sensitise them about planetary health issues and address these issues. He also believes that involving politicians in the awareness programme of planetary health issues is very important to addressing planetary health at local and global levels. In the near future, he is going to work with the parliamentary committee and the department of primary education of Kenya to create awareness about planetary health.
During my discussion with Professor Odipo, I found a lot of similarities in our thinking and future directions for planetary health. We believe that planetary health should be studied using a systems framework and that a holistic approach is needed to address planetary health. We plan to collaborate on an upcoming research project.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Planetary Health Alliance or its members.