Health In Harmony partners with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities living in and around climate-critical rainforests in Indonesian Borneo to implement community-designed solutions to halt deforestation. The communities told us that one of the main drivers of deforestation is the lack of accessible and affordable healthcare. The programs communities designed are holistic and systems-based: access to high-quality healthcare, sustainable livelihoods training, and conservation education.
In this area of Borneo, deforestation greatly impacts the communities and animals (including the beloved Bornean orangutans) that call its rainforests home. Health problems are serious: high-quality, affordable medical care is not available locally, and illegal logging is one of the only ways to obtain a cash income, necessary to cover medical costs. Lack of access to healthcare drives rainforest community members into debt, desperation drives illegal logging, which worsens overall health.
HIH works to address the planetary health needs of the region through community-designed solutions. The medical center hires medical professionals to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare. Patients can pay for medical services with seedlings used in reforestation, handicrafts, manure, and more to ensure care is always accessible, and the link between human and ecosystem health is emphasized. Communities also receive discounts up to 70% when they stop logging in the national park.
A ten-year study was conducted by Stanford University on the impact of HIH's community-designed programs in West Kalimantan on the surrounding communities and rainforests from 2007-2017. Published by PNAS in 2020, the study concludes that programs reduced logging households by 90%, decreased infant mortality by 67%, and led to a cessation of primary forest loss, demonstrating that solutions exist to improve both the health of people and the planet simultaneously.
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