Howard Frumkin

APHA member Howard Frumkin announced the release of The Lancet Countdown 2017 report for the U.S. at APHA’s Annual Meeting. Photo courtesy EZ Event Photography

With climate change and health at the forefront of APHA’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo, attendees learned about climate change’s effects on health from many angles. At the Monday, Nov. 6, plenary session, they were shown what can be done about it. There, Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH, MPH, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, discussed the “Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change 2017” report, of which he is a co-author. APHA served as co-publisher of the “Lancet Countdown 2017 Report: U.S. Briefing.” Frumkin shared highlights of the report, and how public health advocates can use it today.

Q: Let’s start with the basics. What is The Lancet Countdown?

It’s a project that came out of a couple of Lancet commissions on climate and health between 2009 and 2015. Those commissions identified climate change both as an urgent health problem, global in scale, and as a promising public health opportunity, because the things we need to do to tackle climate change yield lots of health benefits.

Importantly, they yielded the recommendation that there should be global surveillance on climate change and health. And that’s what gave rise to The Lancet Countdown.

It’s a project consisting of about 20 or 25 universities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other partners, all of which together are aggregating data on climate change and health, making that data available in a dashboard form and committing to do this for many years to come so that it’ll be an ongoing way to track our progress in tackling climate change.

To continue reading this Q&A from the January 2018 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.