1.4 A Path to Building Partnerships for Addressing the Effects of Climate Change on Community Health

Monday, 7 January 2019: 9:15 AM
North 228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jessica Bell, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Phoenix, AZ; and K. Goodin, V. Berisha, and J. White

Objective: To convene and engage community partners to address environmental concerns affecting the health and well-being of Maricopa County, Arizona residents.

Introduction: Maricopa County (MC), Arizona experiences extreme weather, including heat waves, dust storms, drought, wildfires, flooding, and poor air quality events. These climate-sensitive hazards pose a threat to public health and can lead directly to illness or death or worsen underlying health conditions. The Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) Office of Epidemiology has been conducting heat-associated morbidity and mortality surveillance since 2006, and extreme heat has become an important public health priority as temperatures continue to rise. MCDPH has led several heat surveillance and planning activities. These efforts cultivated a series of long-standing partnerships focusing on heat and health between MCDPH and local governmental agencies, academia, and community organizations. In 2015, we were awarded a grant from the Public Health Institute (PHI) to expand the focus from heat to climate change more generally.

Methods: The primary goal of the PHI project was to collaborate with community stakeholders to mitigate climate change and improve public health. Therefore, we set out to establish a base of community stakeholders with an interest in climate change and its effects on health. A diverse array of academic, governmental, non-governmental, private, and community organizations were identified and convened in a series of meetings to explore the types of climate and health work ongoing within the community.

Results: The series of stakeholder meetings were formalized in 2016 and gave rise to the Bridging Climate Change and Public Health (BCCPH) work group. This work group formulated a strategic plan that identified five priority actions to address environmental concerns affecting the health and well-being of the community, including: (1) Fostering environmental action for a healthier community; (2) Coordinating research and collaborative efforts to catalyze change; (3) Developing a strategic and targeted communication plan; (4) Promoting community awareness and public education about climate and health; and (5) Celebrating success and champions.

Conclusion: Utilizing PHI funding, we have expanded our activities through engagement of community partners, which is crucial for continuing work to bridge climate change and public health and executing the five priority actions in our strategic plan. We will strive to incorporate new stakeholders as we convene future stakeholder meetings, and we will continue to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new collaborations to create successful interventions to address the changing needs of the community.

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