Barriers to Climate Disaster Risk Management for Public Health


Aug 5, 2022

According to available data, atmospheric warming, sea level rise, mountain glacier loss, and ocean acidification are all happening at unprecedented speeds, leading to extreme weather events such as tropical storms, floods, droughts, heatwaves, fires, etc. Significant public health issues have emerged as a result.

Several international decrees, including the Paris Agreement, called on national governments to develop plans such as regular climate-related hazards evaluation and disaster preparedness and risk mitigation to protect their citizens from climate-related health and other threats. These plans require concerted national leadership. A recent study entitled Barriers to Climate Disaster Risk Management for Public Health: Lessons from a Pilot Survey of National Public Health Representatives conducted by our Environmental Health Working Group has tried to examine current national climate disaster preparedness and its associated facilitators and barriers.

The study reported the existence of some technology, infrastructure, and/or human resources, necessary to develop early warning and other surveillance systems for climate-related health risks among surveyed countries. However, persistent limitations and/or regional discrepancies were observed. Governance coordination challenges and, in the case of many developing countries, technical, medical, and human resource shortages were reported as the most significant identified barriers to strengthening emergency preparedness at the national level.

The study called public health stakeholders and climate-health advocates to consider:

1. Supporting governments in both using existing and building new platforms for intersectoral governance.

2. Amplifying resources through the creation of new knowledge translation platforms and large-scale mobilization of more technical and monetary assistance from high-income nations.