Today’s National Public Health Week theme is climate change. Our guest post is from Surili Patel, from the Centers for Climate, Health and Equity and Public Health Policy at APHA.

Climate change is the biggest threat to public health in our lifetime. We know from reports like the National Climate Assessment and Lancet Countdown that the health effects of climate change are impacting our communities right now, all over the world.

APHA has worked on climate change issues for over a decade, but it is clear we need dedicated action and strategic leadership within the public health field now more than ever. That’s why we founded the Center for Climate, Health and Equity with help from the Kresge Foundation to support public health professionals in taking action on climate change and health.

Our vision for America is one in which climate change is treated as a national priority with broad political and social support for solutions that improve public health and health equity. The Center for Climate, Health and Equity will offer public health resources and expertise to advance health equity and environmental justice, while promoting climate solutions.

The Center for Climate, Health and Equity represents a new, focused investment that will help our work reach more of the workforce with greater immediacy. The health effects of climate change won’t wait, and we believe that mobilizing our membership now is important.

A new generation of public health professionals is eager to take on the challenge. See our new student video, and join APHA’s Speak for Health initiative on July 15-16 in Washington, D.C., for a two-day bootcamp training centered on climate change and health policy. Tailored to public health students and early-career professionals, it focuses on how to be an effective public health advocate.

In our efforts to shape climate policy, action and engagement to address the needs of climate-sensitive populations, we will continue work with organizational partners as well. Over the years, APHA has seen a commitment from many public health and related partners, who have dedicated their work to reducing the health impacts of climate change. Today we celebrate their work, too, as we all work to further the climate justice conversation during National Public Health Week and beyond:

  • International Transformational Resilience Coalition builds human resilience in the face of the rapidly growing disasters and persistent toxic stresses generated by climate change. ITRC seeks to prevent harmful climate-related mental health and psycho-social-spiritual maladies, with a special emphasis on health equity, through age, demographically and culturally appropriate resilience education and skills-training programs and policy development.
  • CDC’s Climate and Health Program is the national leader in empowering communities to protect human health from changing climate. CDC highlights health equity by working with tribes, territories and vulnerable communities to prepare for disproportionate health impacts of climate change. This includes developing vulnerability assessment guidance and working with partners like APHA to incorporate health equity into priority actions.
  • Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of over 130 universities, NGOs, government entities and other partners committed to advancing planetary health. Environmental change will only further exacerbate existing health and social inequities, hitting those already vulnerable the hardest. PHA seeks to understand and address these challenges through research, education, policy and public outreach, envisioning a more just and equitable world.
  • U.S. Climate and Health Alliance is a national network of health and public health organizations and professionals addressing the threats of climate change to health, at all levels of governance. Earlier this year, USCHA took the September 2018 Global Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity and adapted it for California. Nearly three dozen health organizations endorsed the call that is helping to engage with state government to advance key climate policies.
  • American Planning Association holds equity as a top priority, and health equity has been the focus of its Planning and Community Health Center work since the last decade. APA provides technical assistance to help communities integrate the principles of health and equity into their comprehensive plans. It develops tools to help planners in disaster-affected areas site early care and education facilities in locations safe from negative environmental impacts.