To understand how climate change is likely to impact upon health and health inequalities in the North West. • To make recommendations for local public health, government and environment organisations on how to minimise the impact of climate change on health and take action at a local level. Aims and objectives of our work
Our work was informed through three different sources: Impacts of climate change upon health identified by: • A comprehensive literature review of the evidence. A “framework for action” to minimise the impact of climate change on a local level devised through: • Consultation through a workshop with people from local health, environment and government organisations. • Expert opinion.
What are the likely impacts upon health? Findings from the literature review: increased risk in the 21st Century to… • Mental health conditions & poor mental wellbeing. • Skin cancer & thermal illnesses. • Respiratory, cardiovascular & gastrointestinal diseases. • Insect-borne diseases. • Reduced access to health care. • Also positive impacts? E.g. reduced winter flu, increasing physical activity
Case study example: Flooding and Health Extreme events associated with climate change (e.g. drought, food shortage, migration) are likely to have the most dramatic impacts upon human health in the future. In the UK, flooding and heat waves are perhaps likely to be the most problematic extreme events.
Extreme Events: Flooding and health What sort of problems does flooding typically cause? - Flooded homes and businesses: relocation of residents? - Forced relocation of key services e.g. police and GPs. - Need for relief centres and emergency shelters. - Need for identification of vulnerable populations . - Destruction of roads, public rights of way and bridges.
What are the main risks to health of flooding? - Injury & drowning. - Mental wellbeing; respiratory illnesses; contaminated water supplies. • Reduced access to healthcare facilities for emergency and everyday contact due to infrastructure damages. What flooding can we expect in the future? “Four times as many homes and businesses could be at risk from flooding unless the UK prepares for more extreme weather conditions”. UK Committee on Climate Change, July 2012 Due to… More frequent and destructive floods due to more frequent storms and heavy rainfall, and increased home building on flood plain land and inadequate precautions against flooding.
What next? Recommendations for action on a local level From the section of our report based upon findings from consultation with local organisations and experts
Some key questions How knowledgeable are local organisations about climate change? How prepared and committed are local services to manage the impact of climate change? How equipped are emergency services/ local government/ health professionals to identify vulnerable people in extreme events? How can we better engage with the public about climate change? How can the public be helped to manage climate change and extreme events?
What actions can be taken on a local level? • They’re not easy to implement but some important ideas will include: • The need for a commitment to manage the impact of climate change on health • Climate change and health related issues should be recognised and integrated into local strategic planning where possible. This requires the commitment of a wide range of partners. • The need to ensure leadership • Leadership from the top will be important. Although there is uncertainty in the public sector about which organisations have responsibility for particular issues, it is especially for those ‘at the top’ to take proactive ownership of the climate change and health agenda.
Development of strong local partnerships • To enable better use of local resources, provide a consistent approach to climate change and focus activity towards achieving shared goals. • Ensure information sharing and coordination between key organisations • e.g. emergency services, local government, NHS. Be aware of who is at risk and who may need help in an emergency. Ensure that whoever needs information has access to it. • Review local infrastructure vulnerability & backup. • e.g. transport, buildings, communication systems, energy supplies. • Engage with interested people and communities • e.g. groups working to reduce their town’s carbon footprint
Reframe climate change issues in a positive light To improve acceptability and communication. e.g. Emphasise co-benefits with health e.g. cycling to work to reduce pollution and improve fitness/ weight loss. An example of an intervention: • Establish early warning systems to communicate with at-risk groups. e.g. Met Office COPD early warning system. Could be applied to heat waves: prevention of thermal injuries and food poisoning.
Reports available at: http://www.cph.org.uk/publications.aspx Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org The impact of climate change upon health and health inequalities in the North West of England (January 2012) Sustainable ventures in public health: the economic benefits of green infrastructure (June 2012) Guide to aid the monitoring and evaluation of ‘green’ projects (to be published November 2012)