The 15th International Congress on Circumpolar health convenes in Fairbanks Monday. Representatives from all nine Arctic nations, as well as scientists, health professionals and Alaska’s Congressional delegation will discuss issues related to health in the far north during the week-long conference.
The first International Congress on Circumpolar Health met in Fairbanks in 1967.
“So 45 years later, the Congress has come full circle,” Tina Day, director of Visions Meeting Management – the organization in charge of putting on the meeting, said.
She says “coming full circle” is this year’s theme.
“It’s a unique Congress in the fact that it brings in high level researchers, scientists, physicians and doctors from around the circumpolar nations so they can gather and discuss the most hot topics with regards to health in the circumpolar countries,” Day said.
Members of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation will join Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, the Chair of the Arctic Research Council, and a group of native elders to discuss topics ranging from suicide prevention to northern traditional health and healing. Much of the discussion will focus on indigenous cultures in the Arctic.
Day expects 550 attendees from 15 countries, including all nine Artic nations. She says the meeting is a boon to the local economy.
“In talking to the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, just on the accommodations alone, the economic impacts to the local community is over a half million dollars. That doesn’t include shopping or any of the extra excursions,” Day said.
The International Congress meets every three years. In 2009, the group met in Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territory. The Congress travels to Finland in 2015.