Washington, DC, June 23, 2015 – The following is a statement from Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) on the White House Climate and Health Summit and release of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate change report this morning.
“For too long, the country has buried its head in the sand when it comes to the threats climate change poses to our health.
The new Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change report raises the stakes, clearing defining the consequences of inaction – but also presents a silver lining of how action now can help mitigate the problems of tomorrow.
That is why the White House Climate and Health Summit on Tuesday is so critical – bringing together U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and leading experts to help build a path forward. But, to have a real ongoing impact, we need more than a one day forum. We need a sustained approach—across agencies—that strategically aligns programs and policies to address climate change and health.
This sustained approach should include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services committing to ensuring that all its programs address the impact of climate change on health and the White House mobilizing every federal agency to consider the health implications of climate change when performing their duties.
We know that, as climate and weather patterns shift, they contribute to the emergence of new diseases and the reemergence or spread of diseases that were nearly eradicated or thought to be under control. As changes in temperature and weather patterns allow pathogens to expand into different geographic regions, some vector- and zoonotic-borne diseases may increase along with foodborne and waterborne diseases. Excessively high temperatures, heavy downpours, wildfires, severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, sea-level rise and other extreme weather events all have implications for public health.
In the Trust for America’s Health annual Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases report, we found that only 15 states have complete climate change adaptation plans – including planning for the impact of climate change on human health.
We know that climate change is affecting every sector of American society, making addressing this issue the urgent responsibility of every government program and agency. There’s no time like the present to safeguard the future health and wealth of the country.”
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.