How can a climate change perspective be integrated into public health surveillance?

Publié le 1 Août 2012
Mis à jour le 5 juillet 2019

OBJECTIVES: Climate change may be considered as a key factor for environmental change, exposure to health risks and pathogens, consequently impairing the state of health among populations. Efficient health surveillance systems are required to support adaptation to climate change. However, despite a growing awareness, the public health surveillance sector has had very little involvement in the drafting of adaptation plans. This paper proposes a method to raise awareness about climate change in the public health community, to identify possible health risks and to assess the needs for reinforced health surveillance systems. METHODS: A working group was set up comprising surveillance experts in the following fields: environmental health; chronic diseases and; infectious diseases. Their goal was to define common objectives, to propose a framework for risk analysis, and to apply it to relevant health risks in France. RESULTS: The framework created helped to organize available information on climate-sensitive health risks, making a distinction between three main determinants as follows: (1) environment; (2) individual and social behaviours; and (3) demography and health status. The process is illustrated using two examples: heatwaves and airborne allergens. CONCLUSION: Health surveillance systems can be used to trigger early warning systems, to create databases which improve scientific knowledge about the health impacts of climate change, to identify and prioritize needs for intervention and adaptation measures, and to evaluate these measures. Adaptation requires public health professionals to consider climate change as a concrete input parameter in their studies and to create partnerships with professionals from other disciplines.

Auteur : Pascal M, Viso AC, Medina S, Delmas MC, Beaudeau P
Public Health, 2012, vol. 126, n°. 8, p. 660-7