Researchers discover benefits of a healthy break

FINNISH medical researchers are world leaders in reducing the incidence of heart disease and type two diabetes.

And when it comes to their own health, they know the best way to deal with Finland’s long, cold winters is to head south to a Warrnambool summer.

That is what two leading Finnish researchers have done as part of a ongoing relationship with the Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH), which has offices at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus.

They are part of a group of up to 25 medical researchers taking part in an annual two-week retreat in Warrnambool, during which they discuss the results of their research so far and plan the next stages.

GGT UDRH director, Professor James Dunbar, said Finnish medical researchers had helped set up the rural health department about 12 years ago and had been coming to the annual report writing retreat in Warrnambool for the past 10 years.

Word has spread through the medical research community, drawing other overseas researchers.

“Success breeds success and our partnerships have grown significantly over the past few years and more have wanted to become involved,” Professor Dunbar said.

He said the retreats included guest speakers but were mainly an opportunity for participants to bounce ideas off each other.

The department’s deputy director Dr Mike Coates said the retreat showed that even in the present era of multi-platform information technology, there was “nothing like face-to-face contact”.

Topics to be discussed at this year’s retreat range from patient safety to diabetes risk factors and the role of practice nurses.

The GGT UDRH is a collaboration between Flinders University and Deakin University.

Medical researchers Mike Coates (left), from Warrnambool, Tiina Laatikainen and Erkki Vartiainen, of Finland, Edward Janns, Melbourne, Tim Kenealy, New Zealand, Warrnambool’s James Dunbar, Robyn Clark, Queensland, Michael Ackland, Melbourne, and Susan Dovey, New Zealand, prepare for a two-week retreat in Warrnambool.

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