Surili Patel is deputy director of the Center for Public Health Policy at APHA.Today's guest blogger is Surili Sutaria Patel, deputy director of APHA's Center for Public Health Policy. She reports on the CDC National Center for Environmental Health gathering of Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative grantees March 14-15 in Atlanta.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health hosts an annual gathering of climate grantees to talk about best practices for a public health response to climate change.

The two-day meeting at CDC’s beautiful Roybal campus this year brought together grantees from 16 states and two cities, as well as national partners, who work at the intersection of climate and health.

The first day’s programming focused on storytelling and effective communications strategies. In addition to hearing from leading experts in climate communications — Ed Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and Sara Isaac, director of strategy and planning at Marketing for Change — grantees shared their successes translating science into practice and demonstrating climate and health communications.

For instance, California state grantee Dorette English focused communications efforts on health equity and how data and maps can be used to encourage state investments and actions with health, equity and climate preparedness benefits. New York City grantee Munerah Ahmed shared inclusive strategies for engagement with communities and communicating heat risk warnings and protective actions in a city with over 100 languages.

In the communications and engagement breakout session, the grantees planned social media strategies to support the National Public Health Week Friday, April 5, daily theme dedicated to climate change and health using the #NPHW hashtag.

The second day highlighted end-to-end climate and health evaluation tools and practices. Five grantees shared their lessons learned. Minnesota grantee Emily Waldhart offered insights for assessing usage of its data products and resources and ways these can be connected to behavior change. From Maryland, grantee Allison Brietenother described assessment of a training on climate change and chronic disease for community health workers.

Afterward, CDC evaluation experts offered assistance to small groups of grantees on evaluation measures and methods in a workshop to determine the effectiveness of interventions and their impacts on health outcomes.

The meeting wrapped up with Erik Svendson, director of CDC’s Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice, and Tim Hack, CDC public health specialist, who stressed the importance of understanding and managing the health risks from climate change and focused on the future of climate change and health work.

The grantees departed with renewed partnerships and stronger networks to support their activities, which are building the emerging field and practice of climate change and health.

APHA is one of 25 national nonprofit awardees of the five-year funding opportunity with CDC called Building Capacity of the Public Health System to Improve Population Health through National, Nonprofit Organizations. These organizations are asked to provide assistance in:

  • Improving public health and organizational systems;
  • Building the competencies of the public health workforce;
  • Improving public health data and information systems;
  • Strengthening public health practice and services;
  • Developing and maintaining public health partnerships; and
  • Improving the provision of public health resources.

APHA’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity leads public health efforts to inspire action on climate and health, advance policy and galvanize the field to address climate change. With a long-standing commitment to climate as a health issue, APHA’s center applies a health equity lens to help shape climate policy, engagement and action to justly address the needs of all communities regardless of age, geography, race, income, gender and more. APHA is the leading voice on the connection between climate and public health.