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Friday
Jun152012

Remembering Dr. Rosalie Bertell

We mourn the passing of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, age 83, who died peacefully on June 14. Rosalie Bertell, scientist and Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, was a tireless and compassionate advocate for those poisoned by chemical and radiological weapons and contamination.

Her book, "No Immediate Danger? Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth" published in 1985, was the first book to reveal the dangers of low-level radiation.

Rosalie received her Ph. D. degree in Biometrics with minors in Biology and Biochemistry from the Catholic University of America, in 1966. Since that time she has worked as a biometrician and environmental epidemiologist. By choice, Dr. Bertell worked for the victims or potential victims of industrial, technological and military pollution with a particular emphasis on assisting the struggles of third world and indigenous people to preserve their Human Right to life and health. Her major concerns were with the dangers associated with economic globalization, war and the proliferation of chemical and radioactive pollutants as the result of preparation for war and the toxic products and processes developed from weapons research and production.

The International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), of which she was Founder and Immediate Past President, opened its doors in 1984 in Toronto Canada and continues to serve as an institutional support for her work. She was also a founding member of the International Commission of Health Professionals, and the International Association of Humanitarian Medicine.

Among many projects she has headed, the most notable are: Director of the International Medical Commission Bhopal which investigated the aftermath of the Bhopal disaster in India; and organizer of the International Medical Commission on Chernobyl to present testimony to the Permanent People's Tribunal. She assisted the people of the Philippines with problems stemming from toxic waste left by the U.S. Military on their abandoned Subic and Clark military bases. She has worked with the government of Ireland to hold Britain responsible for the radioactive pollution of the Irish Sea, and assisted the Gulf War Veterans and the Iraqi citizens dealing with the illness called Gulf War Syndrome. She acted as Consultant to local, Provincial and Federal Governments, unions and citizen organizations.

She was the recipient of five honorary degrees. Among her many awards can be numbered the Alternative Nobel Prize, Right Livelihood Award; World Federalist Peace Award; Ontario Premier's Council on Health, Health Innovator Award; the United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 award and the Sean MacBride International Peace Prize. She was selected to be one of the 1,000 Peace Women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2005. Rosalie published numerous articles, reviewed articles for professional journals and was editor of the journal, "International Perspectives in Public Health".

Read a longer tribute to Rosalie, by Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, here.