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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 5–6, pp 782–785 | Cite as

Why should public health agencies across Canada conduct climate change and health vulnerability assessments?

  • Chris G. Buse
Commentary
  • 104 Downloads

Abstract

Climate change is increasingly impacting population health outcomes related to several areas of public health service delivery across Canada, and internationally. As a result, public health practitioners are increasingly looking for guidance on how to begin planning for and adapting to a myriad of health-related climate impacts. This paper outlines several benefits for local or regional health agencies in conducting climate change and health vulnerability assessments (CCHVAs), based on the author’s experience in conducting two of Canada’s first comprehensive assessments. These benefits include, but are not limited to establishing suitable baseline understandings of past, present, and future climate-related health risks; providing guidance on mechanisms to reduce health inequities that may be exacerbated by climate change; generating credibility for health agencies to engage with climate change and pursue collaborative, intersectoral relationships with a range of likely and unlikely allies; identifying suitable, cost-effective adaptation options in the form of public health programming; and encouraging decision-makers to produce proactive policy actions to redress potential climate impacts on population health. Completing a CCHVA can directly optimize health agencies’ and their allies’ efforts to respond to the health imperatives associated with climate change, while also fueling adaptation options that yield co-benefits across a variety of sectors.

Keywords

Climate change Population health Vulnerability assessment Adaptation 

Résumé

Le changement climatique influe de plus en plus sur les résultats en matière de santé des populations liés à plusieurs domaines de la prestation de services de santé publique au Canada et à l’étranger. Par conséquent, les praticiens en santé publique sont de plus en plus à la recherche de conseils sur la façon de commencer à planifier et à s’adapter à une myriade d’impacts climatiques liés à la santé. Cet article présente plusieurs avantages pour les agences de santé locales ou régionales dans la réalisation d’évaluations de la vulnérabilité aux changements climatiques et à la santé (EVCCS), basées sur l’expérience de l’auteur dans la réalisation de deux des premières évaluations approfondies du Canada. Ces avantages comprennent, sans toutefois s’y limiter : établir une compréhension de base appropriée des risques sanitaires passés, présents et futurs liés au climat; donner des conseils sur les mécanismes permettant de réduire les inégalités en matière de santé qui pourraient être exacerbées par les changements climatiques; créer une crédibilité pour les agences de santé afin qu’elles s’engagent dans le changement climatique et poursuivent des relations collaboratives et intersectorielles avec une gamme d’alliés probables et improbables; identifier des options d’adaptation appropriées et rentables sous la forme de programmes de santé publique; et encourager les décideurs à prendre des mesures politiques proactives pour corriger les impacts climatiques potentiels sur la santé des populations. L’achèvement d’une EVCCS peut directement optimiser les efforts des agences de santé et de leurs alliés pour répondre aux impératifs sanitaires associés au changement climatique, tout en alimentant des options d’adaptation qui produisent des retombées positives dans une variété de secteurs.

Mots-clés

Changement climatique Santé des populations Évaluation de la vulnérabilité| Adaptation 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

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