Obama enlists hospitals, medical professionals to fight health hazards of climate change

The White House says it will look to the medical community to make the case that climate change poses significant health risks and to help reduce these potential harms.

"Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries" that will especially affect children, the elderly, the poor and the sick, according to an announcement. "Ultimately, though, all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can't cordon yourself off from air or from climate," President Barack Obama said to a group at Howard University on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

To help healthcare leaders join the effort, the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will release a "Health Care Facilities Toolkit," which offers fact sheets, checklists and case studies that illustrate best practices for creating a healthcare infrastructure that is resilient to the threat of climate change.

This measure comes on the heels of new guidelines the White House issued in December, which suggest that hospitals should build or rebuild hospitals to better prepare them for extreme weather events and develop contingency plans for electrical and water supply generation, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Other Obama administration-backed efforts to reduce the health risks associated with climate change include:

  • The CDC and American Public Health Association's Adaptation in Action report, which will highlight successful efforts of state and local leaders in New York City, New York state, San Francisco, Maine, Minnesota, Arizona, Michigan and California to reduce the health impacts of climate change
  • A White House Climate Change and Health Summit, set for later this spring, which will convene a variety of healthcare stakeholders and the Surgeon General to discuss the issue
  • The addition of health-related data sets produced by private-sector participants such as Google and Microsoft to the administration's Climate Data Initiative
  • A pledge from top nursing, medical and public health academic institutions such as Harvard University and Johns Hopkins to train students to address the health impacts associated with climate change

All of these efforts make it clear that "this is not just a future threat," senior Obama adviser Brian Deese said at the Howard University event, CNN reported. "This is a present threat."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read the Washington Post article
- check out the CNN report