Extreme Weather and Public Health
The Extreme Weather and Public Health Program was awarded a new grant in 2013 through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative (CDC-RFA-EH13-1305). Arizona is one of 18 states and cities funded. The Initiative helps states and cities develop ways to anticipate health effects by applying climate science, predicting health impacts, and preparing flexible programs.
The new funding will allow the Program to continue addressing heat-related illnesses as well as branch out to other climate and health effects such as drought, vector-borne diseases, wildfires, flash flooding, and air quality. With this grant, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) will incorporate the CDC framework "Building Resilience against Climate Effects (BRACE)" into program activities for the next 3 years.
There are five sequential steps in the BRACE Framework:
- Step 1: Forecasting Climate Impacts and Assessing Vulnerabilities
The goal of this step is to establish a functional understanding of the current and future climate in Arizona, the associated effect on health, and the populations and systems most vulnerable to climate-related health effects.
- Step 2: Projecting the Disease Burden
The goal of this step is to estimate the magnitude and additional health burden of health effects caused by or associated with extreme weather.
- Step 3: Assessing Public Health Interventions
The goal of this step is to determine the most effective and suitable public health interventions that will address priority health impacts, and identify programmatic and operational changes needed to more effectively prevent or reduce disease and injury associated with extreme weather.
- Step 4: Developing and Implementing a Climate and Health Strategic Adaptation Plan
The goal of this step is to develop and implement a strategic adaptation plan with changes to functions and programs needed to prevent or reduce effectively the additional health burden of disease and injury associated with extreme weather.
- Step 5: Evaluating Impact and Improving Quality of Activities
The goal of this step is to improve performance and quality of work by evaluating the effectiveness of processes used and success in delivering key outcomes and affecting health impacts related to extreme weather.
Learn more about CDC's BRACE framework.
The Extreme Weather and Public Health Program was initially created to address heat-related illnesses in Arizona. The Program was funded through a competitive award process under the 2010 CDC Program Announcement CDC-RFA-EH10-1006 and had three major goals:
- Understand baseline knowledge and perceived program needs and data gaps.
Scientific literature on weather has recommended that health departments examine weather adaptation strategies and activities. ADHS developed planning activities to address extreme weather and health issues. The program conducted an assessment with ADHS programs to identify program needs, capacity, and their relationship to extreme weather. The information from this needs assessment will be used to identify priorities for current extreme weather and health resources and future planning strategies to meet unmet needs.
- Enhance current surveillance activities by linking health outcome and weather data.
The Program enhanced current surveillance systems to more readily respond to increases in heat-related public health events. Improved surveillance has allowed the Program to characterize risk factors, identify vulnerable populations, and improve health-messaging efforts.
- Promote awareness of heat-related impacts on public health and create and implement adaptation strategies.
Over the past three years, the Program developed heat-related illness prevention toolkits to promote public awareness of extreme weather implications. These toolkits contain educational materials, including brochures, posters, fact sheets, puzzles, and videos for three vulnerable populations: school-aged children, older adults, and outdoor workers. The Program also developed a communication plan that uses the National Weather Service's warning system to coordinate messaging through ADHS communication channels such as Facebook, Twitter, email, and website updates for the general public, licensed healthcare facilities, and schools.