Washington, D.C., November 2, 2011 –
With increasing recognition of the important connection between climate change and health, the American Public Health Association is pleased that leaders in Congress are reaffirming their commitment to this important issue by reintroducing the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act today.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), calls for developing a national strategic action plan that will equip public health agencies to better prepare for, identify and respond to rising health threats from climate change. It would also improve disease surveillance systems, create tools to predict and monitor the health effects of climate change and develop health communications tools to inform public health and health care professionals and the public about preparedness and response to climate change.
“Climate change poses a real and present health threat for our country today. It can affect the air we breathe and the water we drink. It also can severely threaten our nation’s food supply. If left unaddressed, climate change could exact an enormous toll on communities across the nation,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “The bill introduced today would send a real lifeline to public health officials who are on the frontlines of protecting our health, preventing disease and keeping families safe.”
The bill would enhance capacity among federal, state and local agencies to prevent and limit a whole host of health effects due to climate change, including:
· food, water and vector-borne disease;
· pulmonary and cardiovascular effects, including the impact of temperature extremes, and mental health impacts; and
· the implications for vulnerable communities.
Last year, Capps was bestowed APHA’s Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year award for her continued leadership to protect the public’s health from the impact of climate change.
“We are grateful to Rep. Capps and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for supporting this important and urgently needed piece of public health legislation,” said Benjamin.
APHA joined Trust for America’s Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of County and City Health Officials as well as Reps. Capps and Markey at a press event on Wednesday to underscore the need to improve the public health response to climate change.