On June 23, NACCHO Executive Director LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, joined hundreds of attendees at the White House Summit on Climate Change and Health. Speakers at the event included Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie, in addition to other administration officials and health advocates. A recording of the event is available now online.
In a recorded message, President Obama spoke about the need to act now to make sure that we leave a safe world for our children. Speakers delineated the health impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing, including more intense and frequent heat waves, longer allergy seasons and expanded insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. Thomas Matte, Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Surveillance and Policy of the New York City Health Department, described work the health department has done to map out neighborhoods that are particularly vulnerable to heat waves and partner with other agencies to revise the city’s heat alert system.
Attendees took part in break out discussions on topics including responding to the needs of vulnerable populations and preparing the next generation of health care and public health professionals. The White House released a new fact sheet detailing plans across the government to address these issues. The Department of Health and Human Services released a new emPOWER Map to improve the ability of health officials and emergency managers to rapidly identify the residential areas of people who rely on durable medical equipment to live independently and include this information in emergency planning. On June 22, the EPA released a new report Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action, to estimate the physical and monetary benefits to the U.S. of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
EPA plans a webcast series for local public health officials and environmental agency staff on the connections among climate change, the heat island effect, and public health. This series will address both the short-term response needs that local governments face during heat waves and longer-term strategies for reducing the heat island effect in the future.
NACCHO has a long-standing commitment to raising awareness of climate change as a public health issue. Visit NACCHO’s website for more information about how the organization helps local health departments prepare for and react to the challenges of climate change.