posted on Oct. 12: International experts explore peace through health


World experts in health and peace research will meet today through to Sunday to lay the foundation for an emerging discipline: peace through health.

The McMaster-Lancet Challenge Conference, jointly sponsored by McMaster's Population Health Institute,
the Centre for Peace Studies and the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, is the first in a series to
consciously cultivate this area of study and education.

“We all know the ravages of war and are horrified at the destruction,” says Salim
Yusuf, professor of medicine and director of the Population Health Institute. “The 20th century has been the bloodiest in
history. What has become evident is there may be ways of preventing war, or mitigating its effect.”

The Peace Through Health conference will examine ways in which peace and health are interdependent and
brings together some of the most innovative work in this area and from many parts of the world, including the
Middle East, Bosnia, Northern Uganda and Sri Lanka.

Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, says, “Long before the recent events in New York and Washington,
several people were aware of the need to bring together the collective experience of experts around the world
in a systematic framework that can be of practical benefit. A new field of study is needed that combines the
expertise of health professionals with those of social workers and peace workers.”

The conference will address the following questions:

  • Can health- based activities serve to mitigate violent conflict?
  • What are the fundamental principles of peace through health?
  • How will these principles affect health policy and practice?
  • How can the impact of a peace initiative be assessed?
  • How can this new body of theory and practice be included in the education of
    health professionals?

The conference keynote speaker is professor Johan Galtung, who helped found the International Peace
Institute in Norway and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Peace
Prize) in 1987.

Galtung has been a consultant in peace processes in numerous armed conflicts and is currently
director of Transcend, an international peace and development network.