TJ7.4 An Exploratory Analysis of the Health Impacts In South Pacific Island Countries of the 2015-2016 El Niño Event

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 11:15 AM
Conference Center: Tahoma 5 (Washington State Convention Center )
Glenn Russell McGregor, Univ. of Durham, Durham, UK; and C. Caiado, I. Bovolo, S. Kovats, A. Morse, J. Shumake-Guillemot, R. Kim, and N. Cunningham

El Niño has a strong and varied impact on environmental conditions across the Pacific region leading to a range of climate extremes. Such extremes possess the potential to exact a heavy toll on Pacific Island Countries (PICs), especially in relation to population health. This is of utmost concern as PICs are amongst those most vulnerable to variations in climate because of a high burden of ill-health and the limited capacity of health systems to respond and adapt to climate risks as posed by events such as El Niño. Given this, the potential impacts of the recent 2015-2016 El Niño on people's health in PICs, as affected by a range of possible diseases (e.g. diarrhoea and dengue fever) could be significant. The overarching aim of this paper therefore is to present the outcome of an exploratory analysis of the health impacts in PICs of the 2015-2016 El Niño event by exploring whether significant anomalies of disease incidence across a number of PICs are related to unequivocal departures of a range of health sensitive climate fields from the “normal” climate state. In doing so, the paper will assess the utility of disease incidence data collected via the Pacific Syndromic Surveillance System (PSSS; weekly data) and the Health Information and Intelligence Platform (HIIP; daily data) for establishing El Niño related health impacts and describe some of the methodological and analytical challenges confronted in assembling an integrated climate and health data set for establishing climate related health impacts.

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