Developing Indicators to Drive Relevant Action on Climate Change and Health

On November 14, 2022, at the initiative of the IANPHI Committee on Climate Change and Public Health, IANPHI held a webinar on Developing Indicators to Drive Relevant Action on Climate Change and Health. The session came a year after the launch of the IANPHI Roadmap for Action on Health and Climate Change at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. In the roadmap, IANPHI committed to a number of actions to help National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs) improve public health interventions related to climate change, including by enhancing their capacity through knowledge sharing and supporting the identification of common indicators. 

Indicators are critical tools to track and capture climate-induced health impacts, harness evidence and implement effective public health interventions. The webinar featured representatives from international organizations, Kim Van Daalen (Lancet Countdown) and Dr. Aleksandra Kazmierczak (European Environment Agency); and from member National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs): Dr. Giovanni Leonardi (United Kingdom), Dr. Shubhayu Saha (United States), Dr. Mathilde Pascal (France) and Dr. Aakash Shrivastava (India). The webinar was opened by Dr. Sébastien Denys of Santé publique France, who is the chair of the IANPHI Thematic Committee on Climate Change and Public Health, and was moderated by Dr. Svenja Matusall of Germany's Robert Koch Institute.

Global and Regional Framework Behind the Lancet Countdown Annual Report

by Kim van Daalen, Research Fellow, Lancet Countdown

Kim van Daalen emphasized the importance of the Lancet Countdown annual report in monitoring progress in climate change as the biggest international collaboration, consisting of 100+ leading institutions and agencies across the globe. The Lancet Countdown tracks climate change through different indicators that are organized by five main working groups: Health impacts of climate change (1), Health Adaptation (2), Health Benefits of Mitigation (3), Economy Context (4) and Political Context (5). The Lancet currently has six regional centers focusing on local and national implications of climate change and health to support the global work. The regional centers develop unique indicators targeting the risk factors of specific regions to support local climate health. The Lancet also aims to provide countries with relevant tools to support them with preparation and adaptation to climate change through health observatories on their website.  

[Reports we have published] since 2015 that are tracking climate change held across different indicators really help [us] to better understand the links between health and climate change for the past decades.

Kim van Daalen, The Lancet Countdown

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The Lancet Countdown’s Website

2022 Global Report of the Lancet Countdown 

European Climate and Health Observatory Climate Change and Health Indicators

by Dr. Aleksandra Kazmierczak, Expert in Environment, Human Health and Well-being, European Climate and Health Observatory, European Environment Agency 

The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an independent agency of the European Union working to collect, synthesize, and analyze environmental information from their members and cooperating countries to support the policy making process. Dr. Kazmierczak represented the European Climate and Health Observatory under the EEA whose goal is to better understand, anticipate, and minimize the health threats brought by climate change. The observatory gathered robust indicators including the climate hazard indicators, exposure indicators, vulnerability indicators and impact indicators from EAA and partnering agencies. The indicators are useful tools to help its users monitor key climate-related health risks, impacts and adaptive responses. Dr. Kazmierczak emphasized the importance of the adaptation response indicators in solution assessment and progress tracking. She addressed the current data gaps in climate change impacts and the knowledge gap in effectiveness of solutions. More partnerships across agencies are needed in the future to bridge the gap and to make more efficient interventions in the future.

The aim of the observatory is to create a partnership that can progress the knowledge on climate change impacts on the health and the associated solution.

Dr. Aleksandra Kazmierczak, European Climate and Health Observatory

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European Climate and Health Observatory 

From National Environmental Change Indicators to Global Capacity for Public Health

by Dr. Giovanni Leonardi, Public Health Specialist, Head of the Environmental Epidemiology Team, UK Health Security Agency 

In 2022, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) launched a new Center for Climate Change and Health Security with the aim to produce regular updates, present an overall report on the health effects of climate change, and plan the responses to several types of adverse weather events. Dr. Leonardi shared how UKHSA’s relevant activities benefited from established and available indicators of climate change. UKHSA is actively collaborating with many agencies and academics in identifying and producing relevant evidence on climate change and health indicators to strengthen the current database. Dr. Leonardi shared a table which summarized the necessary indicators and their availability in the country. He highlighted that most of the indicators require a lot more work to become routinely available. When it comes to international collaborations, the UK is currently contributing to climate case studies in partnership with TEPHINET, IANPHI and others. They are also looking forward to future collaborations with diverse agencies focusing on climate change and health.

The UK Health Security Agency contributes to the identification, development and deployment of relevant indicators at local, national [levels]; and the promotion of this capacity internationally.

Dr. Giovanni Leonardi, UK Health Security Agency

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U.S. CDC: Risk Reductions Through Collaborative Climate Indicators

by Dr. Shubhayu Saha, Senior Advisor to the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, Office of Assistant Secretary for Health, and Health Scientist, Climate and Health Program, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Saha shared the works of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the range of indicators developed for historic, current, and future temperature metrics in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Dr. Saha specifically emphasized the indicators developed by the CDC for heat exposures, which included seasonal and geographical data provided from NOAA and are useful for people to make corresponding forecasts based on the county-specific information. The indicators also address historic and current heat-related health outcome as part of the efforts. Similar indicators are helpful in identifying high risk populations and social vulnerability factors to help the policy makers to establish correlations before decision making. Dr. Saha further discussed how different agencies could participate in the risk reduction process under the surveillance of these indicators to produce better health outcomes.

There is this ongoing interagency effort to assemble a set of indicators, not only from the health sector, but from the non-health sectors as well, that reflect both direct as well as downstream health benefits from climate action. The set of indicators in combination help identify specific areas with a high concentration of at-risk individuals.

Dr. Shubhayu Saha, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Towards A Planetary Health Observatory

by Dr. Mathilde Pascal, Epidemiologist and Project Manager for Air, Climate and Health, Santé publique France

Dr. Pascal shared Santé publique France’s recent progress in developing an observatory in response to the IPCC Working Group II Report 2022, which calls for solutions on climate change from local perspectives. The Planetary Health Observatory in development aims to facilitate the production, dissemination, and follow-up of relevant indicators to support climate policies in France through an integrative lens. Santé publique France was successful in creating methodological guidance on climate change and indicator development, and is working on a scoping review, developing new indicators, and identifying relevant partners and pilot territories to produce a systematic framework.

Another very important point is to facilitate, organize, [and] harmonize the indicators across a geographical scale.

Dr. Mathilde Pascal, Santé publique France

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Climate Change and Health Indicators under India's National Program on Climate Change and Human Health

by Dr. Aakash Shrivastava, Additional Director and Head, Centre for Environmental Health, Occupational Health, Climate Change and Health, India's National Centre for Disease Control

Dr. Aakash Shrivastava of India's National Centre for Disease Control spoke about the National Program on Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) in India. He presented two of the surveillance systems that NPCCHH initiated: the National Heat-Related Illness Surveillance and the National Acute Respiratory Illness Surveillance. Both systems adopted developed indicators and are lively examples of integrating indicators in public health analysis. A few challenges were identified including intensive resources, underdeveloped guidelines, and difficulties to find innovative solutions specific to the place and context. NPCCHH is actively making improvements in their program implementation indicators and is seeking to retrofit existing structures.                                                                                                         

The goal is to reduce morbidity, mortality, injuries, and health vulnerability to climate variability and extreme weather.

Dr. Aakash Shrivastava, India's National Centre for Disease Control

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At the end of the session, participants had the opportunity to ask questions to panelists. Several questions arose around implementation challenges, standardizing indicators, and future interventions. The panelists emphasized that data collection for standardizing indicators across the globe is an ongoing effort, and that it is important to understand the intermediate factors or linkages between exposure and outcome to develop appropriate indicators. Collaborations and efficient communications are necessary in the process of strategic planning. Overall, more information is required for scientists to understand climate change, but utilization of these indicators would help with the development of policies and regulations at the national level.

Writer: Binyu Yang. Editor: Marie Deveaux

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