In a letter sent to the House Subcommittee on Environment of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) highlighted health threats posed by climate change as well as the vital role local health departments play in mitigating those threats and challenges they face doing so.
Across the country, local health departments are tasked with addressing the many health risks that stem from climate change. As the climate continues to change communities will be susceptible to a number of health threats, including increased exposure to and geographic reach of vector-borne and infectious diseases like zika and Lyme disease, exacerbation of respiratory conditions and allergies due to worsening air quality and pollution levels, food shortages, and lack of access to safe drinking water. Similarly, the increasing frequency and intensity or adverse weather event, like floods and wildfires, or natural disasters like hurricanes pose unique public health threats to the communities affected.
NACCHO strongly urges all levels of government to collaborate with community stakeholders in preparation for and response to a changing global and local climate. Local health departments and the public health community can and should provide strong leadership in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
NACo County News draws attention to some of the challenges the local health department face:
Surveys conducted by NACCHO have found that nearly eight out of 10 local health department directors believe their local health department lacks the expertise to assess the potential impacts of climate change and effectively create adaptation plans to respond to climate change.
While more than half of health department directors acknowledge the health impacts of climate change, less than 20 percent (one-fifth) have the resources and expertise needed to assess the potential impacts, create effective plans, and protect their community from these health impacts.
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Want to learn more? The health-related impacts of climate change will be discussed at the 2019 MACo Summer Conference session, “The Climate-Health Connection Will Blow You Away.“ The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 14-17 at the Roland Powell Ocean City Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Winds of Change.”
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