Finnish professors award for a decade of work in local rural health

Professor James Dunbar (left) with Professor Tiina Laatikainen and Professor Erkki Vartiainen, both from Finland, celebrate a decade of work for the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health.

Professor James Dunbar (left) with Professor Tiina Laatikainen and Professor Erkki Vartiainen, both from Finland, celebrate a decade of work for the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health.

A DECADE of work for the betterment of the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH) by  two international professors has been acknowledged.

Finnish professors Erkki Vartiainen and Tiina Laatikainen were recognised for their contribution over the past 10 years with a celebratory dinner in Warrnambool last Thursday night.

The two were presented with certificates for research into health issues around the region.

The recognition is the latest honour in the career of the professors who are highly qualified and regarded in their homeland.

Professor Vartiainen is the director of the Department of Health, Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. 

He also previously received a doctor of science from Flinders University for his contribution to local research through the GGT UDRH.

Professor Laatikainen is the director of the Chronic Disease Prevention Department in the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland and professor at the University of Eastern Finland.

In the Greater Green Triangle region the pair have worked on a health risk factor study and nationally on a diabetes prevention program.

The GTT UDRH was established in 2001 and Professor Vartiainen first became involved the following year.

He said he and Professor Laatikainen come back to Warrnambool to the GGT UDRH head office at Deakin University for two weeks each year to work on research projects.

“In those two weeks we work on the projects, right from designing the research to writing the final papers,” Professor Vartiainen said.

“I really like the concept of our annual visits, we get to work with so many talented people from Warrnambool, Melbourne and other countries and much can be achieved bringer people from such different backgrounds together.”

Professor Laatikainen first came to Warrnambool in 2004, with her debut visit lasting a year. “I really enjoyed that opportunity to be here for a full year and to transfer my knowledge to different circumstances.

“It is interested to see the differences in the health services here. 

“In Finland health services are government run and paid for by taxes, whereas in Australia there are smaller, private options.”

GGT UDRH director Professor James Dunbar said the Finnish connection had been of huge benefit to the Greater Green Triangle region and the broader Australian community.

“They are among the best in their field in the world and their involvement has been of great value to us,” Professor Dunbar said.

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