Incorporating geographies of health into public policy debates: The GeoHealth Laboratory

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The restricted influence of geographers in the policy arena has been the source of some angst. This paper reports on a new initiative at the University of Canterbury, which aims to strengthen geography's contribution to health policy debates in New Zealand. The GeoHealth Laboratory is a joint initiative between the Department of Geography and Public Health Intelligence group at the Ministry of Health that seeks to provide a pathway for the integration of health geography research into policy development. This new facility aligns the expertise in health geography, GIS and other spatial analytical methods with policy-relevant research priorities. An overview of the strategic aims of the GeoHealth Laboratory is provided along with some examples of recent research activities that are contributing to understandings of the health landscape in New Zealand. It is argued that such partnerships provide important opportunities for geographers to engage with policy-relevant issues.
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