Wisconsin Climate and Health Adaptation Plan
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has created a Climate and Health Adaptation Plan to assist state and local agencies in adapting to a changing climate. This Wisconsin Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, created by the Wisconsin Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Program (also known as the Wisconsin Climate and Health Program), proposes strategies for adapting to the potential climate-related health impacts of a changing climate and weather patterns in Wisconsin. The plan outlines the role of partners in these strategies and includes a process for evaluating the strategies. The plan includes an inventory of current adaptation strategies that pertain to flood vulnerability, extreme heat, drought, winter weather, and vectorborne diseases. This inventory of adaptation strategies was created through a partner engagement process that involved in-person meetings of Wisconsin climate and health topic experts including: (1) BRACE, (2) Office of Preparedness and Emergency Health Care (OPEHC), (3) Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking (WI-EPHT), (4) topic expert colleagues from the DHS, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health (BEOH), Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Section, and (5) Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM).
The plan also describes a list of emerging topics that are a higher priority for Wisconsin to address. The emerging issues topic categories were selected based on input from the Wisconsin BRACE Science Advisory Group and from the use of a prioritization matrix. Three emerging issues emerged from this process: (1) flood vulnerability, (2) heat and respiratory health, and (3) emerging vectorborne diseases. Strategies for these emerging topics will consider target populations and relevant public health interventions.
DHS has partnered with local health departments to implement climate and health adaptation strategies through a pilot project mini-grant process that the BRACE program has implemented. As part of the process, grantees from 11 counties received training from the Wisconsin BRACE staff in the following topics: Wisconsin climate trends, community engagement models, adaptation planning, climate-related health impacts, vulnerability assessments, and strategic planning. Grantees worked with Wisconsin BRACE and local stakeholders to develop community engagement methods, adaptation strategies, and action steps to identify locally relevant climate adaptation strategies to be integrated into existing public health and emergency response planning mechanisms.