The International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH) is an international non-governmental organization, with members, adhering bodies and affiliates throughout the circumpolar regions. There has been a long-standing need for the exchange of medical knowledge, as well as the results of recent research and demonstrated solutions to problems for the benefit of humankind. Arctic communities, with the general and specific medical and health problems found in this region, obviously share this need with the rest of the world. The health problems and needs of northern peoples has become the focus of the only organization of its kind dedicated to the health problems of the circumpolar regions — the International Union for Circumpolar Health.
The circumpolar health movement began in the 1960’s in order to bring together medical scientists, health care specialists, health administrators, and indigenous peoples of the Far North. The purpose of these efforts was, and still is, to share research findings and program successes that are unique to these regions of the world in order to reduce death, disease, and disability, and to improve the quality of life for all those living in the North. As a result of the circumpolar movement, a unique International Congress series was developed. This series has grown into the premier international gathering of arctic health professionals.
In 1981, the IUCH was formally established as a unique entity at the 5th International Congress on Circumpolar Health held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The IUCH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Alaska. Thus the IUCH is a multilateral scientific union, which strives to contribute to the growing body of scientific medical and public health research data for the circumpolar regions and globally.
In order to support its members and affiliates, and the scientific and indigenous communities at large, the IUCH has clearly established working groups that concentrate on specific health problems of importance to circumpolar populations, maintains several publications and supports international efforts in Telemedicine and Health Informatics.
For more information, see the following articles that have been prepared to document the history of IUCH:
For More Information, Contact:
Dr. Anders Koch, President
Statens Serum Institut
The objectives of the IUCH are to:
- Promote international cooperation in circumpolar health.
- Encourage and support research and exchange of scientific information in the circumpolar health sciences.
- Promote public awareness of circumpolar health.
- Provide a means of communication with other scientific organizations.
- Promote and encourage the participation of indigenous peoples in circumpolar health affairs.
Council Members (2015-2018)
The Council Members are selected from each of the five adhering bodies. Two others are selected at large from the General Assembly, which meets during the International Congress held every three years. Additional Council members are selected by the Affiliated Members.
There are currently thirteen Council members. IUCH activities are managed on a day-to-day basis by the President, Dr. Anders Koch.
Council members for 2015-2018 include the following:
- President: Anders Koch (Danish-Greenlandic Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Vice-President: Mikhail Voevoda (The Russian Academy of Polar Medicine)
- Secretary: Jon-Øyvind Odland (Nordic Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Treasurer: Brenna Simons (American Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Suzanne Møller (Danish-Greenlandic Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Arja Rautio (Nordic Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Jon Petter Storr (Nordic Society for Circumpolar Health – member at large)
- Gwen Healey (Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Michael Jong (Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Philippe Amtislavski (American Society for Circumpolar Health)
- Abbie Wolfe (American Society for Circumpolar Health – member at large)
- Lyubomir Aftanas (The Russian Academy of Polar Medicine)
The health and wellness of northern peoples are the focus of the International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH). The IUCH is the only organization of its kind dedicated to health in the Arctic and Antarctic and brings together several organizations from the entire circumpolar region.
The five adhering bodies include:
- The Russian Academy of Polar Medicine
Affiliated members include:
- Icelandic Society for Arctic Medicine
- Circumpolar Health Research Network (CirchNet)
- Swedish Society for Arctic Medicine
The World Health Organization is also represented on the IUCH Council.
The Arctic Council
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that provides a mechanism to address the common concerns and challenges faced by the Arctic governments and the people of the Arctic.
You can read more about the Arctic Council on its website.
The International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH) is an observer to The Arctic Council, as a non-governmental organization. Earl Nowgesic, Canada, represents the IUCH at the Arctic Council.
The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
The Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Barrow, Alaska in 2000, approved a strategic framework document on sustainable development. With this foundation for further cooperation, the SDWG started developing the economic, social and cultural aspects of sustainable development.
The Arctic states have declared their commitment to improving human conditions in the Arctic and to building capacity to help the inhabitants adapt to new realities.
The International Union for Circumpolar Health is also an observer in the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG), and at the Senior Arctic Official meetings (SAO). Gert Mulvad, Greenland, represents IUCH at the SDWG.
The Arctic Council encourages among other things continued cooperation on health issues, including assessment of the relationship between pollution and health. It gives special attention to the children and youth of the Arctic with the aim of preparing young people to actively participate in the sustainable development of the region.
The SDWG decided during its May 2008 meeting to establish a Arctic Human Health Expert Group (HHEG). The purpose of this group is to assist the SDWG in assessing human health projects and priorities. There will be a meeting of the HHEG at the 14th ICCH meeting in Yellowknife, July 2009.
For further information, see the SDWG Website.
The International Union for Circumpolar Health logo tells a lot about us. There are five Adhering bodies in the IUCH which are represented by the five human figures. The loop with a line through the intersection is a Saami traditional healing symbol. By linking the five adhering bodies on the polar projection the logo also resembles the Inuit blanket toss that requires “pulling together” and coordinated teamwork. So there is also very strong link to the indigenous peoples of the Arctic in our logo.