Curriculum for Best Practices

Cibrelus, L.; Mantilla, G.

Public health professionals, field epidemiologists, health management workers and health policymakers are increasingly concerned about the potential impact that climate can have on public health. Climate not only determines the spatial and seasonal distribution of many public health events, such as infectious diseases, but also is a key determinant of inter-annual variability in disease incidence, including epidemics and medium-term trends. However, many public health professionals are not yet aware of the ways in which climate information can help them manage the impacts of climate on their disease surveillance and control activities, as well as program implementation and evaluation. Similarly, climate scientists are not aware of how they can contribute to the information needs of the public health sector. Despite the challenges inherent to the multidisciplinary nature of the field of climate and
public health, interdisciplinary work and dialogue is necessary to bridge this gap.
Public health is a broad effort organized by society to protect, promote and restore the people’s health. It is the combination of sciences, skills and beliefs directed to the maintenance and improvement of health through collective or social actions. Many significant contributions to public health stem from activities outside the formal health sector (e.g., water resources management and food security). In this context, climate researchers should be considered a part of the public health community.
Protecting public health from the vagaries of climate will requires new working relationships between the public health sector and the providers of climate data and information. It will also demand a wide variety of strategies and must occur at multiple levels. One of these strategies is to increase the public health community’s capacity to understand, use, and demand the appropriate climate information to mitigate the public health impacts of climate. However, good information is not enough. The public health community must also be able to distinguish between different kinds of data to determine what is relevant, at what time and space scale, to their population. Consider, for instance, the many ways that temperature affects human health. Rising average temperatures are predicted to increase the incidence and duration of heat waves, which are known to be a major hazard to particular segments of the population including those with heart problems, respiratory diseases such as asthma, the elderly, the very young, and the homeless. Rising temperatures may also increase the incidence of infectious diseases and contribute to air quality problems. Determining which of these issues are most pressing will require public health professionals to interpret various kinds of information and that is why it is so important to train them. It is also important the courses are tailored to the local context and resources, for developed and developing countries have different abilities to cope with stresses from the climate.


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International Research Institute for Climate and Society

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Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Published Here
March 13, 2024

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