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PRESS RELEASE: Second Global Conference on Lifestyle and Health to highlight PAHO, Seventh-day Adventist collaboration

World health officials, Church officers, 1,100 attendees to meet at University of Geneva July 8-11

July 03, 2014

Contact: Ansel Oliver, olivera@gc.adventist.org.

World Health Organization officials and officers from the Seventh-day Adventist world church are set to meet at the “Second Global Conference on Lifestyle and Health” July 8 to 11 at the University of Geneva, a gathering that underscores how local communities worldwide are being served by a collaboration between the two organizations.

In a 2009 conference, leaders of both organizations said that working relations between the two entities would give each better access to networks and resources as they seek to improve grassroots public health initiatives.

Since then, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a collaboration that is helping each organization better serve local communities in need of primary healthcare through the Adventist Church’s extensive network of congregations, schools, hospitals and clinics.

“PAHO/WHO has since provided technical guidance to the Adventist Church’s local congregations and national ministries of health to establish and enhance community health centers with the overall aim of increasing access to primary healthcare,” said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director General of the Pan American Health Organization. “People within the Adventist Church have been trained in child health, key family practices, Community IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness), while developing a network of human resources in countries, such as Honduras, Bolivia and Peru, among others, as a promising way to promote health and prevent disease.

Next week’s conference will again take place in Geneva as a sequel to the 2009 meeting, which focused on Lifestyle as Primary Health Care. This time around the theme focuses on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with specific emphasis on providing broad access to preventive lifestyle measures and interventions throughout the whole cycle of life.

“We’re following up on our promise,” said Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries director of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. “In 2009 we pledged to be a collaborating agent for change. So we’ve come back now, not only to network, educate and share, but to recommit to the vision of sharing health fully dimensionally—physical, mental, social and spiritual—in the wholistic way.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization came out of the World Health Organization’s desire to establish partnerships with faith-based organizations, which deliver as much as 40 percent of primary care in some nations.

Part of the UN system, PAHO is the regional arm of the World Health Organization and serves 35 countries in the western hemisphere.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is an international Protestant denomination of more than 18 million members and has emphasized healthful living throughout its 150-year-history.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been prominently featured in magazines, news reports and books—including the book “Blue Zones”—as communities with extended longevity.

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What: Second Global Conference of Health & Lifestyle

When: July 8 – 11

Where: University of Geneva, UniMail Campus
Bd du Pont-d'Arve 40
1205 Genève

Why: To follow up on the 2009 conference, in which the World Health Organization and the Seventh-day Adventist Church pledged to work together in implementing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals regarding health.

Contact: Ansel Oliver, olivera@gc.adventist.org.

Schedule of selected Keynote Speakers:
—Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health for the Pan American Health Organization (Tuesday, July 8, 9 a.m.)

—Dr. David Williams, Harvard University professor, will address vital aspects of engaging the community in battle with the health challenges of today. (Tuesday, July 8, 9:45 a.m.)

—Mark Finley, assistant to the President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, will present the unique, 150-year-old health focus of the Church. (Wednesday, July 9, 8:40 a.m.)

—Dr. Gary Fraser, principal investigator of the Adventist Health Study 2, will share insights and applications from the ongoing study, which is funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. (Wednesday, July 9, 9:30 a.m.)

—Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization (Thursday, July 10, 9 a.m.)

—Dr. Albert Reece, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland. (Thursday, July 10, 9:30 a.m.)

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