Climate Change and Public Health Surveillance: Toward a Comprehensive Strategy
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Climate Change and Public Health Surveillance: Toward a Comprehensive Strategy

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Public Health Manag Pract
  • Description:

    Climate change poses a host of serious threats to human health that robust public health surveillance systems can help address. It is unknown, however, whether existing surveillance systems in the United States have adequate capacity to serve that role, nor what actions may be needed to develop adequate capacity.


    Our goals were to review efforts to assess and strengthen the capacity of public health surveillance systems to support health-related adaptation to climate change in the United States and to determine whether additional efforts are warranted.


    Building on frameworks issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we specified 4 core components of public health surveillance capacity relevant to climate change health threats. Using standard methods, we next identified and analyzed multiple assessments of the existing, relevant capacity of public health surveillance systems as well as attempts to improve that capacity. We also received information from selected national public health associations.


    Multiple federal, state, and local public health agencies, professional associations, and researchers have made valuable, initial efforts to assess and strengthen surveillance capacity. These efforts, however, have been made by entities working independently and without the benefit of a shared conceptual framework or strategy. Their principal focus has been on identifying suitable indicators and data sources largely to the exclusion of other core components of surveillance capacity.


    A more comprehensive and strategic approach is needed to build the public health surveillance capacity required to protect the health of Americans in a world of rapidly evolving climate change. Public health practitioners and policy makers at all levels can use the findings and issues reviewed in this article as they lead design and execution of a coordinated, multisector strategic plan to create and sustain that capacity.

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