Madagascar native Nat Quansah was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2000 for his work to educate his community about the need for forest conservation by reintroducing the use of native plants as medicine to thousands of Malagasy people in an Ambodisakoana clinic he opened.
We caught up with Quansah to see what he’s been doing since winning the Prize. In the guest blog below, he fills us in on all the action- complete with photos!
My work has been focused in recent years on reinforcing and building the capacity of the local community, especially the youth, via leadership trainings in Environmental and Health Promotion Strategies. These trainings are done in both classroom and field settings to gain a hands-on understanding of the people/plant relationships to be attained. These trainings result in increased conservation for biological and cultural diversity as people learn to appreciate and respect the diversity of cultures and use resources in a sustainable manner.
During this phase of my work, I have been working as the Academic Director for the SIT Study Abroad program every summer since 2010. In this position, I oversee the training of American undergraduate students through the summer program in Madagascar: Traditional Medicine and Health Care Systems. During the rest of the year, I also assist on a voluntary basis with the training of local Malagasy students of the Pharmacology and Animal Physiology Department at the University of Antananarivo.
The promotion of appropriate environmental and health strategies has also involved local and international public education through my participation in workshops and conferences. For example, in December 2012, I talked about “The need to recognize and include traditional birth attendants in finding solutions to the problem of Maternal Mortality in Madagascar” at the UNFPA – MINSANP (United Nations Population Fund – Ministry of Public Health) joint Workshop held in Toamasina, Madagascar.
Similarly, in September 2012, I actively participated in a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico on “Access to care for disadvantaged populations in public health systems.” This conference was organized by Tradition d’Avenir, a French NGO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of the State of Oaxaca and the Foundation Franco-Mexicaine pour la Medecine (The Franco – Mexican Foundation for Medicine).
Currently, I am living and working in Zanzibar on a short term contract as the Academic Director for SIT’s Study Abroad Fall Program in Tanzania: Zanzibar Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management.