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Climate Change Report Demands Public Health, Research Investments

The findings recently released in the fourth federal National Climate Assessment highlight immediate threats and urgent challenges the incoming Congress must take on to confront the reality of climate change and its impacts on public health.

As the report notes, climate change has already impacted public and individual health through extreme weather events, air quality issues and the transmission of diseases through insects, food and water. These troubling changes have prompted the Infectious Diseases Society of America to recommend wide-ranging and proactive efforts to accelerate and bolster public health and research preparedness measures. The federal report provides strong evidence that these measures cannot wait.

Essential measures, delineated in IDSA policy recommendations released this year, include long-term studies to assess relationships among affected weather variables and infectious diseases, and increased and dedicated funding toward strategies to prevent and treat water-borne, zoonotic and vector-borne diseases.

IDSA also has recommended that infectious diseases risks that are associated with natural disasters and population displacement – two key consequences of climate change noted in the assessment – be included in comprehensive disaster response plans. The assessment’s findings, following the recent destructive hurricane season and the series of devastating wildfires across California that displaced entire communities while fueling the spread of diseases, have demonstrated that these plans must be strengthened now.

In addition, the report shows, enhanced surveillance of vector-borne diseases, and greater investments in public health infrastructure and workforce will be increasingly critical.

IDSA stands ready to guide efforts that avert, prepare for and respond to the infectious disease impacts of the climate change consequences detailed in the assessment.

IDSA’s full climate response policy recommendations and rationale are here.


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