With the new year comes new understandings and new frames. The American Public Health Association (APHA) recently released their new policy entitled "Public Health Opportunities to Address the Health Affects of Climate Change." While this is not the first time that APHA has formally passed a statement regarding the urgent threat of climate change on public health and the environment, the organization has updated their policy in recognition of the fact that the scientific understanding of climate change, including its implications for health, has grown substantially in recent years.
This policy builds upon and replaces existing policies and is consistent with APHA policies that reference climate change, including such topics as pollution prevention, sustainable food systems, improving public health through transportation and land-use, and many other relevant topics. The new statement also provides useful framing and data to better understand how APHA is framing climate as a health priority for their members. Climate for Health applauds the work that the American Public Health Association is doing to further the discussion and engagement on climate change within the health community, and we are proud to have APHA as a partner.
Policy Number: 20157
Climate change poses major threats to human health, human and animal populations, ecological stability, and human social, financial, and political stability and well-being. Observed health impacts of climate change include increased heat-related morbidity and mortality, expanded ranges and frequency of infectious disease outbreaks, malnutrition, trauma, violence and political conflict, mental health issues, and loss of community and social connections. Certain populations will experience disproportionate negative effects, including pregnant women, children, the elderly, marginalized groups such as racial and ethnic minorities, outdoor workers, those with chronic diseases, and those in economically disadvantaged communities. Climate change poses significant ethical challenges as well as challenges to global and health equity. The economic risks of inaction may be significant, yet many strategies to combat climate change offer near- and long-term co-benefits to health, producing cost savings that could offset implementation costs. At present, there are major political barriers to adopting strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Recognizing the urgency of the issue and importance of the public health role, APHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others have developed resources and tools to help support public health engagement. APHA calls for individual, community, national, and global action to address the health risks posed by climate change. The public health community has critical roles to play, including advocating for action, especially among policymakers; engaging in health prevention and preparedness efforts; conducting surveillance and research on climate change and health; and educating public health professionals.
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