Last year, a record number of extreme weather events wreaked havoc in local communities across the country – from extreme flooding to fires – forcing residents and officials to adapt to the devastating effects of climate change. And the public health community is vital to that adaptation. Now more than ever, state, local and federal public health practitioners are being called to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the effects of this real and present threat.
With this challenge in mind, APHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been supporting a webinar series to better equip state and local public health professionals with the latest knowledge and research on this growing public health priority. The first of two webinars this year, held last week, focused on the crucial role of climate change policy in helping the public health community prepare for and respond to health impacts of climate change.
“In challenging times like these, it is critical to leverage resources for adaptation planning through a health-in-all-policies approach, said APHA’s Georges Benjamin on the webinar. “It’s equally important to improve our use of public policy as a public health improvement tool.”
Christopher Portier, director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, joined Benjamin on the webinar to provide an on-the-ground perspective of how federal agencies are working with state and local health departments to address the health challenges of climate change.
“We see an observable change in disease patterns as a result of climate change. Tick populations are moving north, so although there is a reduction in Lyme disease in the south, we now know it’s moving elsewhere,” said Portier.