A rare, unusual exhibition that touched on the ecological connections among rain forests, our environment and us, and how human health is at stake
The health consequences of tropical rain forest degradation

The Rain Forest for Health exhibition in the Rimba Ilmu,
July-September 2001.
(Photo: KM Wong)

The Bahasa Indonesia version of a travelling exhibition called Rain Forest for Health  was at the Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden in the University of Malaya during July-September 2001, with the cooperation and assistance of the Rainforest Medical Foundation. The exhibition was also a tribute to Dr Arnoud van Seters, a founder of the Rainforest Medical Foundation and key architect of the exhibition, who most unfortunately died on 26 March 2001. (The English version was earlier shown in the Chelsea Physic Garden (U.K.), Ghana and South India before being donated to Suriname. Later, this Bahasa Indonesia version was created.) At the showings in Malaysia, both Bahasa Malaysia and English versions were made available as accompanying pamphlets.
The creation of this exhibition was made possible by the MacArthur Foundation, the Dutch Embassy in Indonesia, the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, the Environmental Education Centre (PPLH) in Bali, WWF-Netherlands and WWF-Indonesia. Ms Marian Buijs and Mr Rob van den Elst, board members of the Rainforest Medical Foundation, were present at the Kuala Lumpur launch by the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya, Professor Dato' Dr Anuar Zaini Md. Zain, on 20 July 2001.

This exhibition conveyed three main messages. 1) The rain forest is a rich source of medicinal materials and other life-supporting processes; 2) When we disturb the forests too much, we can increase the risk for diseases (with documented examples from malaria and leishmaniasis to AIDS and Ebola) to cross into the human fray and turn into epidemics; 3) Sustainable forms of forest use and conservative measures are important to keep in mind.
Using examples from various parts of the world, the exhibition showed how rain forests harbour many complicated life interactions, where often natural predators and linkages keep things in balance. Once a substantial area of forest is cleared, it is possible for certain diseases to spread because the natural control or balance processes are interrupted. Sometimes, these diseases come into the midst of human communities.

Student group being briefed at the
Rain Forest for Health exhibition at the Rimba Ilmu.
(Photo: KM Wong)

During the travelling period in August, 2001, the exhibition was shown in the state of Kelantan, at two venues: the Tengku Anis Hospital in Pasir Putih (11-12 August) and the Billion Supermarket (Kota Sri Mutiara Complex) in Kota Bahru (14-18 August), which kindly lent their support. This was achieved in collaboration with the Malaysian Nature Society, the Tengku Anis district hospital in Pasir Puteh, the Kelantan Lions Club and the Kelantan State Education and Forestry Departments.
At the Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden, the exhibition was accessible during July and September, 2001, when special interpreted sessions  were held for schools and colleges every Tuesday, Saturday and daily for the school-break period in mid-September.

(Right)Exhibition at the Tengku Anis Hospital.
(Photo: IS Shanmugaraj)

                                                                                                                  The exhibition at the Tengku Anis Hospital was part of their "Open Day"
events that saw the hospital interacting with the community around.
(Photo: J Jamirus)

School groups were also invited to the exhibition and were given interpreted sessions as well as an illustrated lecture promoted by the Hospital.
(Photo: IS Shanmugaraj)


(Left) A nurses' group visiting the exhibition, Tengku Anis     Hospital, Kelantan.
(Photo: MS Zahid)

                                 (Above) View of the exhibition in front of the Billion

                                                         Supermarket in Kota Sri Mutiara Complex, Kelantan.
                                                                            (Photo: J Jamirus)

Young visitors to our stall at the Billion Supermarket.
(Photo: M Sugumaran)

                                                                                      Unpacking more items during the setting up of the panels at the front of the Billion Supermarket.
(Photo: J Jamirus)

Back to "Flashback"