NACCHO was honored to be invited by the White House to discuss its Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative. NACCHO and local health departments across the country applaud the White House for leading this effort to ensure that people have access to the health care they need and for recognizing that climate change impacts health.
As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative to develop tools and information to help health care facilities prepare for the impacts of climate change and increase their resilience. As part of this Initiative, the Administration released a best practices guide for health care providers, design professionals, policymakers, and others to promote continuity of care before, during, and after extreme weather events.
Local health departments work closely with other government agencies, the health care community, local businesses, and community leaders to anticipate and plan for the impacts that a changing climate can have on the public’s health and our vital health care system, including the physical infrastructure of healthcare facilities. Recent extreme weather events—such as flooding, sea-level rise and fluctuations in temperature—have reemphasized this collaboration.
Extreme weather, a result of climate change, can compromise air, food, and water quality, and it increases the transmissions of insect-spread infectious diseases such as Chikungunya virus, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease. Climate change can also worsen chronic diseases like asthma and heart disease, and shorten life spans.
Local health departments work closely with healthcare facilities and providers to ensure they are equipped to handle these new 21st century challenges, and are prepared to withstand these changing conditions. Their collective efforts not only help lengthen lives, but also increase the community’s ability to sustain itself and be resilient.
The launch of the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative reaffirms the need to protect the people in our communities from threats to their health, including the health effects of climate change. NACCHO and local health departments will continue working with healthcare facilities and other partners to build, renew, and strengthen capabilities that effectively respond to a changing climate.