Methods of Assessing Human Health Vulnerability and Public Health Adaptation to Climate ChangePublished: May 15, 2003
The fact that climate is changing has become increasingly clear over the past decade. Recent evidence suggests that the associated changes in temperature and precipitation are already adversely affecting population health.The future burden of disease attributable to climate change will depend in part on the timeliness and effectiveness of the interventions implemented. In response to these changing risks, the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in London in 1999 recommended developing the capacity to undertake national assessments of the potential health effects of climate variability and change, with the goal of identifying: 1) vulnerable populations and subgroups and 2) interventions that could be implemented to reduce the current and future burden of disease.The need to facilitate the transfer of expertise among countries was recognized.This publication is designed to address this need by providing practical information to governments, health agencies and environmental and meteorological institutions in both industrialized and developing countries on quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing human health vulnerability and public health adaptation to climate change.An integrated approach to assessment is encouraged because the impact of climate is likely to transcend traditional sector and regional boundaries, with effects in one sector affecting the coping capacity of another sector or region. Part I describes the objectives and the steps for assessing vulnerability and adaptation and Part II discusses the following issues for a range of health outcomes: the evidence that climate change could affect mortality and morbidity; methods of projecting future effects; and identifying adaptation strategies, policies and measures to reduce current and future negative effects.The health outcomes considered are: morbidity and mortality from heat and heat-waves, air pollution, floods and windstorms and food insecurity; vector-borne diseases; waterborne and foodborne diarrhoeal diseases; and adverse health outcomes associated with stratospheric ozone depletion.