Climate Services for Health

Thursday, June 9, 2016

As the world’s climate changes, hazards to human health are increasing. Droughts, floods and cyclones affect the health of millions of people each year. There is also a close relationship between climate and diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, meningitis and respiratory ailments, which cause death and suffering for many millions more.

Fortunately, scientific advances have increased the range and accuracy of climate services that can be effectively used to protect public health from extreme weather and climate. These are showcased in a new collection of case studies from the World Meteorological Organization and World Health Organization Joint Office on Climate and Health.

The Climate Services for Health Case Study Project profiles over 40 examples of tailored climate services used to manage health risks. It summarizes benefits and lessons learnt, presents a common framework for developing health tailored climate services, and shares good practices which can strengthen collaboration between the weather and climate community and the public health sector.

“The WHO and WMO are working together to improve health sector readiness for climate and weather extremes.  The case studies presented here demonstrate the vast potential and the benefits already being shown when health professionals work alongside climate scientists to craft reliable and actionable information products, said Joy Shumake-Guillemot, of the WHO-WMO Joint Office.

Examples include:

  • Ecuador and Peru: A binational monitoring network for dengue control using climate and health information was established to address a shared problem of endemic dengue transmissions in the border areas of the two countries.
  • India: Climatological and health-related specialized agencies formed a partnership to collect and integrate information required to monitor the health risks and impacts of air pollution. This provided a strong basis for the future development of air quality hazard forecasts that can be used for public advisories. 
  • Solomon Islands, customized rainfall outlooks are used by the National Vector Control Programme to plan community awareness and vector control activities and to allocate diagnosis and treatment resources more efficiently.
  • Canada: a multi-agency system has developed a suite of tools to forecast, monitor and communicate risks from wildland fire smoke to partners and the public.
  • Ethiopia: Long-term collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the National Meteorological Agency in Ethiopia informs malaria prevention and control.
  • Madagascar: A Climate and Health Working Group has been providing technical support and climate informed diseases surveillance to the Ministry of Health since 2008, thanks to strong institutional arrangements, information sharing policies, clear needs identification, and joint trainings.

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