Climate-Smart Public Health

Christopher Golden, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Francesca Dominici, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

We are positioned to make an unprecedented advance for public health through the creation of multisector information systems that can yield critical insights about how best to protect people from the threat of climate change. Public health surveillance has typically not woven informative climate, environmental, or agricultural data into their platform. This absence has prevented an understanding of health impacts and has stalled our ability to better anticipate and predict harm.

To develop public health systems with the sophistication and rigor commensurate with the threat from climate change we face, we need to foster cooperation across climate, environmental, agricultural, and health sectors to quantify and analyze often underappreciated environmental determinants of health. We seek to form a comprehensive picture of how climate change-related exposures affect human health and thereby enable multi-sector interventions that will bolster resilience among people at risk.

We will focus on two countries: Madagascar and Niger. The climate impacts, cultures, geography, economies, and much else between these two countries provide contrasts in environmental, health, social, economic, agricultural, and ecological contexts. The distinct contexts of these two nations will serve as our strength as they offer insight into a breadth of factors influencing climate vulnerability that could not be obtained by studying either country in isolation. Crucially, success in building this information infrastructure will guide information sharing for broader preparedness.