A visit to Dubbo by the world's first professor of planetary health may shine a brighter light on the impact of the drought on the health of people in Western NSW.
Professor Tony Capon, from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, says the health and well-being of people "entirely depends on the health of natural systems".
He is expected to inspire researchers attending the sixth Western NSW Health Research Network (WHRN) conference in Dubbo on June 19.
The theme of the event is Growing Health Research from the Ground Up.
Professor Capon will speak to the main themes of the conference which are environmental impacts on human health, drought resistance and the "health of our rivers".
Professor Capon is a public health physician and authority in environmental health whose research focuses on urbanisation, sustainable development and human health.
"In recent decades, we've witnessed remarkable advances in health and health systems through bio-medical research and innovation," he said.
"Sometimes, however, we seem to overlook the fact that the health and well-being of people entirely depends on the health of natural systems.
"We need more attention paid to the eco-social foundations of health in contemporary health systems, and in health discourse more generally."
Other keynote speakers at the conference include NSW AgriFuturesTM Rural Woman of the Year Jillian Kilby, deputy director of the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre Professor Lucie Rychetnik and director of the Western NSW Local Health District Clinical Trials Unit Dr Rob Zielinski.
WHRN chairwoman Associate Professor Catherine Hawke said the keynote speakers would inspire researchers in the region to continue to develop rural research projects around Aboriginal health, the health of communities in years of drought or environmental pressures, and virtual access to health care.
"We'll also be looking at ways in which we can attract funding for this kind of research," she said.
Associate Professor Hamish MacDougall, also from the University of Sydney, will demonstrate research around virtual reality experiences in medicine including "swimming" down blood streams to see the effect of viruses and building a model ear.
Registrations at www.123tix.com.au will close on June 17 with students offered a 50 per cent discount.