Directors Report

The day before I sat down to write this message, I was contacted by one of our funders. They wanted to know if our funded  project had built capacity. While I could point to the papers, theses, workshops and reports the project had generated, it was more difficult to measure the impacts on health, societies and populations that had arisen from our work.  How does one attribute the actions of a team to an outcome that is affected by a complex of species, issues and perspectives? This summer we were retained by the Cohen Commission into the Disappearance of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon. We produced a technical report that was provided to the judge, the advocates, the stakeholders and the public. While we received tremendous feedback on that report, I have no way of measuring if or how it will affect either the recommendations of the judge presiding at the Commission or ultimately the fate of sockeye salmon. Our Teasedale-Corti project in Sri Lanka has affected significant changes in veterinary public health capacity ranging from helping establish the Sri Lanka Wildlife Health Centre to inspiring a national pilot program for a veterinary public health service. It has been highlighted as an example of successful research by both the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the International Development Research Centre. But, in a world of international pressures to combat emerging infections, what portion of those changes can be attributed to our work? As I continued my discussion with the funder, I became confident of one thing – we have built capacity at the ground level by building human capacity. Over the course of not only this past year, but also for the 15 year history of the CCH, we have invested in individuals. Whether that be undergraduate students who have come to intern at the CCH, graduate students working with us on one of our many projects or young professionals getting their first jobs in population health, the CCH has created a place where people have the support and capacity to look at health across species and across disciplines.  I have proudly seen our trainees and former employees carry with them the experiences and insights gained at the CCH into other problems and places. Some work at an international level such as with ‘Veterinarians Without Borders’ and the ‘Food and Agriculture Organization’. Others work locally to promote the well being of regions, towns and species.  Although the CCH was never designed as a training institution per se, it has grown to be an internationally unique place where people interested in working on, rather than just studying, health at the interface of people, animals and the environment can learn by doing.  As we continue to evolve in our perspectives and impacts, the CCH team is working evermore on trying to take the philosophy and methods born in academia to promote and protect health as a socio-ecological phenomenon  and turn them into feasible, understandable and effective means to help people manage the health of interacting populations and their shared environment.  I am confident that by serving as a “teaching hospital” for complex environmental health issues, the CCH will remain an incubator of human capacity that will be able to apply their skills and knowledge to many of the challenging problems facing us in the next few decades. We have only been able to build this capacity by having a dedicated and inquisitive staff of professionals at the CCH who are motivated to take on challenging problems head on and work in the messy, sticky and sometimes frustrating environs that make up the CCH case load.  I want to take this opportunity to once again thank the team for their efforts, intelligence, patience and imaginations.  This report provides you with some highlights of the past year and serves as an important reminder that the CCH is indeed building capacity that will help protect our health, and the health of the world around us.Craig Stephen, Director, CCH
The 2009/2010 Director’s Report can be accessed from the Annual Report, available as a PDF file here.