Climate Resilience Resource for Local Health Departments Released

The Ohio Public Health Resiliency Coalition formed by OPHA has released a resource for addressing the public health impacts of climate change. The document looks the potential adverse outcomes that Ohio communities may face and suggests adaptations public health professionals can make.  It was released during the 2018 Public Health Combined Conference. The full release follows.

Columbus – The Ohio Public Health Association (OPHA) formed the Ohio Public Health Resiliency Coalition to develop a resource for use by local public health professionals in their efforts to address the public health impacts of climate change and climate-related weather events in their communities. The document, titled “Climate Resilience in Ohio – A Public Health Approach to Preparedness and Planning” was released today at the Ohio Public Health Combined Conference in Worthington.

The tool focuses on the risks and adverse outcomes that the communities served by Ohio’s local health departments are likely to face due to climate change effects. Potential public health-related impacts associated with climate change include: extreme weather events; decline in air quality; increased production of pollens; heat stroke and heat-related illnesses; altered environmental conditions that foster the spread of communicable and vector-borne diseases; decreased food supply; decreased water quality; increased mental health stress.

“Climate change inherently has a public heath aspect, whether it is increases in asthma rates and hospitalizations, heat stroke, power outages resulting in food borne illnesses or water quality issues that affect our drinking water as well as flooding which can result in agricultural runoff and the disruption in growing cycles which affects food security,” said Joe Ebel, Licking County Health Commissioner and President of the Ohio Public Health Association.

This resource provides the foundation for local public health departments to determine the climate related events that may impact them as well as adaptations they could make to prepare and who the impacted vulnerable populations may be.

“The negative effects of climate change will likely disproportionately affect those vulnerable populations in our communities, such as those persons in low socio economic status, those who already are experiencing medical conditions, the elderly and children,” said Joe Mazzola, Franklin County Health Commissioner.  “As local health departments it is our responsibility to prepare and raise awareness,” he added.

OPHA is the state’s public health professional association, with the mission to be the inclusive voice for public health and to ensure the optimal health of all Ohioans. Among the basic aims of OPHA are the goals of professional education and advocacy. Being a non-governmental and nonpartisan organization, OPHA is well positioned to address a variety of key issues affecting the health of Ohioans.

The Ohio Public Health Resiliency Coalition is comprised of local public health practitioners, academics, students, and stakeholders.  This is just the first step for this coalition.  The aim is to provide local health departments resources, research and communication tools to prepare their community for climate effects as well as begin to lay the groundwork for mitigation strategies in their communities. These strategies are done through policy and legislative work which begins at the local level.

Download the document

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For more information, contact:

Jamie Weaver

Ohio Public Health Association