On January 12, 2017, the American Public Health Association (APHA) launched its Year of Climate Change and Health (YOCCH) to raise awareness of the health impacts of climate change and mobilize partners to take action.
The launch meeting, held in Washington, D.C., sought to generate excitement about and engagement in the YOCCH; create a network for advancing knowledge and action; map out events for each month throughout the year; and describe and assign both APHA and partner roles in this effort. The event was attended by approximately 100 leaders and experts from the private, public, and academic sectors, including the Kresge Foundation, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and The George Washington University, among others.
APHA led us through the day, providing background and context for the YOCCH. We spent some time working in small groups to define the finer details regarding potential activities we might engage in, who our audiences and partners are, and what is our ideal timeframe. We also dedicated time to networking as a way to boost our ability to work as a community in the upcoming year.
What's Coming Next
APHA and their partners will be rolling out initiatives, events, and partnership opportunities throughout the year to raise awareness and mobilize action around positioning climate change as a major threat to public health, centered on 11 climate-and-health related themes identified as top priorities to address.
Here’s a rundown on the campaign, how Climate for Health will be participating, and how you can, too.
The priority issues were decided by consensus of members and partners at brainstorming sessions held at APHA’s strategic planning workshop, at the 2016 APHA Annual Meeting, and via email and social media. These themes will change each month and include:
- January: Introduction to the Year of Climate Change and Health
- February: Climate Justice & Health
- March: Clean Energy
- April: Transportation and Healthy Community Design
- May: Air Quality, Respiratory & Cardiovascular Health
- June: Vector-Borne Diseases
- July: Agriculture and Food Safety & Security
- August: Water Quality
- September: Extreme Weather
- October: Vulnerable Populations, Focus on Children
- November: Tribal and Indigenous Health
- December: Co-Benefits
Each topic presents an opportunity to learn about these issues as they pertain to your practice, share information, and take positive climate action.
For its part, Climate for Health will be incorporating the monthly themes in all of its communications, including social media. Monthly beginning in March, one of the APHA Climate Change Learning Institute scholarship recipients will write a guest blog on a priority theme from his or her perspective. The participants, who hail from across the country and include students, educators, and professionals, have interests and expertise in fields ranging from environmental, community, and international health to nursing and environmental education.
How to Get Involved
APHA is seeking additional partners for the YOCCH. There are three levels of progressively more active involvement: Bronze (Change Agent); silver (Change Maker); and gold (Change Champion); visit the APHA site and click "become a partner" to learn more.
Participation can be as simple as sponsoring or attending a climate-and-health related event during the year. The first of these events is the Climate and Health Meeting, spearheaded by former Vice President Al Gore and cosponsored by APHA and others, to be held February 16 in Atlanta. Later in the year, APHA’s annual conference November 4-8 will focus on “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health."
You can also plug into APHA’s pre-existing campaigns:
* Get Ready, its climate-related emergency preparedness campaign
* National Public Heath Week, which will include student sessions on climate change and health that are also open to the public
* Generation Public Health, which aims to equalize access and quality of healthcare across all U.S. demographics to make the U.S.A. the healthiest nation in one generation.
Right away, you can download the YOCCH Social Media Toolkit, which offers one-click, readymade social media tools for communicating on Twitter and other platforms; tips; downloadable graphics; links to short videos; and fact sheets. Each month there will be a new toolkit tailored to a different climate-and-health theme. Get it here.
To learn more about the Year of Climate Change and Health, visit the APHA website. You can keep the conversation going on your regular social media by using the hashtag #ClimateChangesHealth, and follow APHA on Twitter: @PublicHealth and @EH_4_All.
Jane Chang is Program Manager, Health at ecoAmerica.
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