Rebecca Wolff wins poster prize at the 22nd Canadian Conference on Global Health

by Michelle

Congratulations to Rebecca Wolff for winning the overall prize and poster competition for the “most innovative research” at the 22nd Canadian Conference on Global Health. The conference took place in Montreal, from November 5th to 7th.

Poster Citation: Wolff, R., Harper, S.L., et al. “Its spirit is strong: Shawi healers, spirits and diarrhea in the Amazon” Canadian Conference of Global Health, Montreal. 5-6 November 2015.


Waterborne illness remains a public health challenge faced by many Indigenous communities. The Shawi, a dominant Indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon, have retained the majority of their cultural practices and belief systems. Indigenous illness perceptions may not always reflect known biomedical causes of disease, making some health interventions ineffective. The goal of this research was to explore how Shawi perceptions on the causes of diarrhea, as a symptom of waterborne illness, related to Shawi beliefs and cosmology about water. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in two Shawi communities in August 2014 to document beliefs regarding water spirits and the role of traditional healers in causing diarrhea. Results of this study showed Shawi perceptions on the causes of diarrhea were predominately based in beliefs around water spirits and the ability of traditional healers to cause diarrhea, as opposed to a belief in diarrhea caused by biomedical risk factors for waterborne illness, such as the consumption of contaminated water. This research highlights how understanding Indigenous perceptions of illness is essential to informing the design of more effective health interventions to reduce waterborne illness in Amazonian Indigenous Communities.

Dr. James Ford and Mya Sherman featured in the Peruvian news papers La Republica and Correo

by Michelle

Last October, Dr. James Ford and project lead Mya Serman were interviewed while in Lima for meetings and workshops related to the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change project by local news papers La Republica and Correo.

To read the articles (published in Spanish), please follow the links provided below.

James Ford: “Los humanos somos más adaptables de lo que creemos”, La Republica, October 22nd 2015 edition.

Mya Sherman: “Producimos información no solo para los libros”, Correo, October 21st 2015 edition.

IHACC Knowledge Dissemination event in Lima, Peru

by Michelle

Last week, the IHACC Peru team hosted a two day seminar called Diagnóstico Climático 2015 at the UPCH Miraflores campus. The event sought to create a space for interaction, discussion and learning to describe and assess the relationship between climate change and health. The seminar specifically focused on climate change and climate variability and the health of indigenous and rural communities. The event included a variety of presentations and roundtable discussions with participation by public and private actors from local, regional, national, and international levels. The event was attended by >50 people including high level representatives from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment. IHACC team members Dr. Alejandro Llanos-Cuentas, Dr. César Cárcamo, Jahir Anicama Diaz, Dr. James Ford, Dr. Sherilee Harper, and Mya Sherman presented on both days of the event.

IHACC Peru Knowledge Sharing event 2015