J3.1 Preparing for the Health Effects of Drought: A Resource Guide for Public Health Professionals

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 8:30 AM
North 228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Tesfaye Bayleyegn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA; and Z. Jeddy

Drought is a costly, complex phenomenon that can result in many negative impacts to a community. According to the United States Drought Monitor, from 1980-2014, there were 22 droughts in the United States that were each responsible for economic losses of over $1 billion. In the past 10 years alone, 39 states have been affected at some point by extreme or exceptional drought (levels of drought include the following: abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought, and exceptional drought).The current western drought has cost California over $4.9 billion and contributed to the loss of more than 21,000 jobs.

Drought can have far-reaching implications for a community’s public health; some drought health effects occur suddenly, others occur over time. The adverse health effects of drought include increases in the incidence of mental health issues, infectious diseases, chronic disease exacerbation, death from excessive heat exposure, and illnesses associated with poor water quality. Certain vulnerable populations, for example those with certain chronic diseases, are more likely to be adversely affected by drought.

Drought will become more common and more severe in the future. Understanding the full impact, that drought has on public health and sharing the components of successful drought planning and response strategies are important steps to help reduce the overall public health impact of drought.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a resource guide: “When Every Drop Counts: Protecting Public Health during Drought Conditions — A Guide for Public Health Professionals” (WEDC). WEDC advocated inclusion of public health in preparedness and response and highlighted the many potential effects of drought on human health

To enhance integration of public health concerns into drought preparedness and response operations and to supplement WEDC, the CDC developed an additional resource guide in 2017: “Preparing for the Health Effects of Drought: A Resource Guide for Public Health Professionals.” This guide is based on qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with public health professionals, a review of state drought plans, and a literature review on the health effects of drought.

The resource guide includes five modules and two handouts. The modules provide information on steps to success, tips, best practices, and resources relevant to public health professionals to help their efforts to prepare for and respond to drought. The guide is available on CDC’s website (https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/cwh/docs/CDC_Drought_Resource_Guide-508.pdf) to help inform planning and implementation of appropriate public health interventions for those affected by drought. Providing this information in one place will decrease the time and funding that State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial health departments need to spend when planning and implementing drought-related interventions.

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