Welcome to the Canadian Association of Physicians
for the Environment. CAPE is a membership organization for health professionals.
It works to protect the environment in order to protect human health.
CAPE is a group of physicians, allied health care practitioners and citizens
committed to a healthy and sustainable environment. As an organization
composed mostly of physicians, CAPE brings its health expertise to environmental
issues and is an important voice for environmental health in Canada.
CAPE addresses issues of environmental degradation by educating health
care professionals and the public, through advocacy and in close cooperation
with partner groups.
CAPE is concerned about Ecosystem Health, Human Health and Sustainable
Ecosystem Health and Human Health
"Ecosystem health may be defined as a systematic approach to the preventative,
diagnostic, and prognostic aspects of ecosystem management, and to the
understanding of relationships between ecosystem health and human health.
It seeks to understand and optimize the intrinsic capacity of an ecosystem
for self-renewal while meeting reasonable human goals. It encompasses
the role of societal values, attitudes and goals in shaping our conception
of health at human and ecosystem scales." (Source: Ecosystem Health -
The official journal of the International Society for Ecosystem Health).
1948, the World Health Organization defined health as "a state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being." Since then, we have come to a
better understanding of the place of humans within the global ecosystem.
It might be more appropriate, today, to say that health is a state of
complete physical, mental, social and ecological well-being.
The level of health we enjoy in Canada today is the result of centuries
of social and economic development rooted in exploitation of the earth's
natural resources. Ultimately, our health depends upon the health of the
ecosystem of which we are a part.
"Population health, viewed within an ecological and longitudinal framework
and across multiple scales, can be understood as an expression of the
sustained functioning of the many ecosystems and natural cycles that constitute
earth's life support systems. Although, for the moment, longevity continues
to increase in most countries, these health gains will dissipate if life's
ecological infrastructure is not sustained." (McMichael et al., 1996,
Sustainable Health in a Globalized World (Beijer Discussion Paper #87),
Stockholm: Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, The
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.)
- To educate physicians on environmental issues, providing them with
both accurate information and a framework for thinking about environmental
- To prepare spokespersons to comment on the health implications of
environmental issues in an accurate and rigorous manner
- To serve as a "think tank" for considering the health implications
of environmental issues
- To provide a forum in which physicians can meet and discuss health
issues associated with environmental problems together with non-physician
colleagues who have the knowledge and insight they need
- To advocate certain positions or courses of action
The Canadian Affiliate of the International
Society of Doctors for the Environment
The International Society of Doctors for
the Environment (ISDE) has recognized the Canadian Association of
Physicians for the Environment as its Canadian affiliate, effective 18
September 1994. ISDE is an international federation of physicians' organizations
concerned with the environment, founded in 1990. ISDE in the fall of 1994
recognized 24 national and regional affiliates and had individual members
in 50 countries, for a combined total of about 20,000 members. ISDE is
headquartered in Switzerland and sponsors a Scientific Center and International
School on Environment and Health, based in Italy. ISDE is officially recognized
by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.
Today, health should be considered
a state of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being.
"All people are responsible
for the environment. Doctors are twice."