Weather and climate are inextricably linked to some of the most fundamental determinants of human health such as clean air and water, adequate food and shelter, and the distribution and occurrence of disease. Heat and cold waves, tropical cyclones, floods and droughts claim many lives and heighten the transmission of diseases each year. Factors indirectly related to weather and climate – food security and non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases resulting from exposure to poor air quality – also cause the death and illness of many people. Furthermore, the proliferation of communicable water-borne and vector-borne diseases, due to favorable conditions particularly triggered by climate variability, result in a huge cost to society and the economy.
Understanding the relationship between climate and health is fundamental when taking preventative action against climate related health risks. It is a challenge for the health community to access, recognize, understand, interpret and apply available climate information. Likewise, the climate services community often does not fully appreciate all public health concerns and needs, and the role climate services can play to support public health.
The Global Framework for Climate Services aims to help bridge these gaps. It will foster collaboration to develop reliable health and climate-related tools and services for various time scales – from months to seasons, decades and longer. These services will support health priorities such as improving disease surveillance, and extending the lead-time to prevent and prepare for climate related outbreaks and emergencies.