Supporting health and well-being

There is growing evidence that the health of the marine environment and human populations are inextricably linked

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There is growing evidence that the health of the marine environment and human populations are inextricably linked. These linkages encompass both risks and benefits. On the risks side, natural events such as severe storms, hurricanes and tsunamis can have devastating impacts on coastal populations, while pollution of the ocean by pathogens and toxic wastes cause illness and death. Conversely, the seas and global ocean provide humans with many benefits including nutritious, life-supporting food, clean water that is safe to bathe in and supports seafood that is safe to eat, regulation of the earth’s climate system, and reduction in effects of extreme weather such as flooding. The marine environment can also be the source of potential health benefits through the provision of novel pharmaceuticals and related products derived from marine organisms, as well as contributing to disease prevention through encouraging physical activity and enhancing psychological well-being.
To-date most of the research into oceans and human health has been conducted in high income countries and the ‘global north’. Blue Communities explored these issues in four low-middle income countries in Southeast Asia (SE Asia), specifically the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
A central component of the overall Blue Communities project was to build research capacity and capability among our partners in SE Asia. A survey of stakeholders and members of the coastal communities was co-created by researchers and stakeholders in the Philippines (coordinated by our partners at the Western Philippines University) and the UK over an intensive three-week period. 
Supporting health and well-being
The survey collected data about human health and well-being, the health of the ocean and people’s interactions with the ocean. It was further refined, pilot tested and then administered with coastal communities in the four SE Asia countries with nearly 1600 respondents.
The key finding was that coastal communities in different locations across this geographical region are very different from each other. This is likely to have implications for health and well-being, as policies and management to protect the local marine environment need to be tailored to the health needs of each community.

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