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WATCH | How accessible healthcare could be the solution to deforestation

The health of the forest is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of its people.

But across the globe, communities are having to confront deforestation as people turn to logging to make ends meet.

It may seem easy to direct judgment and blame toward loggers, but most of them are in impossible situations. Through the process of Radical Listening, NGO Health In Harmony and rainforest communities recognised one of the biggest causes of financial desperation is the need to access healthcare.

Together they collaborated on community-designed solutions to create easily accessible and affordable healthcare, along with alternative livelihoods and education.

Ashley Emerson is the Programme Director at Health In Harmony and Erika Pellegrino is a clinical coordinator in Brazil.

“To better understand the community, we use Radical Listening, believing that communities know what is better for themselves instead of a colonial approach in which we dictate what we think is better,” Pellegrino says.

Health In Harmony works in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Brazil. Their approach is subverting power structures by giving communities agency over their circumstances. This involves acknowledging people’s struggles and implementing their solutions to environmental challenges, such as healthcare.

At Health In Harmony, people can access their right to the affordable, high-quality help that they need.

The initiative offers tiered discounts to their medical centres, midwifery services, dental clinics, and ambulances. They also accept non-cash payments such as rainforest seedlings and handicrafts.

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Health In Harmony understands that locals are the true guardians of the rainforests. When people are empowered to lead fulfilling lives, they are better able to protect the natural world.

“Ultimately, we want to affect the climate and nature crisis through science, and the knowledge of Indigenous, traditional and rainforest communities,” Emerson says.

By ensuring families never have to log to pay for healthcare, they are bringing justice to both the environment and communities.

Photos by Marcelo Salazar, Chelsea Call, and Stephanie Gee were used in the creation of this film.