NACCHO and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication recently conducted a study to gain a greater understanding of public health preparedness for climate change at the local level. NACCHO has published these findings in the report Are We Ready? Report 2: Preparing for the Public Health Challenges of Climate Change.
Key highlights from this study include:
- Nearly 8 out of 10 local health department directors believed climate change was already occurring, and more than half thought climate change was already harming the public, or would begin to do so in the next decade.
- Nearly 8 out of 10 local health department directors believed their local health department lacked the expertise to assess the potential impacts of climate change and effectively create plans to respond to climate change adaptation plans.
- Nearly 9 out of 10 local health department directors felt their health department lacked sufficient resources to effectively protect the local population from the impacts of climate change.
- Only 45 percent of local health departments had at least one type of program that may help to limit future impacts of climate change.
- Programs to educate the public about climate change and its potential health impact took place in less than five percent of local health departments across the country.
- Local health departments with large budgets had significantly higher activity in climate change-related areas than local health departments with mid-sized or small budgets.
Climate change has real health impacts that are felt at the local level. NACCHO believes, with the necessary resources, local public health departments are uniquely positioned to respond to these health impacts and protect the public’s health.