The science of climate change and its impacts on health makes it clear that human health and wellbeing will be increasingly negatively impacted as a result of climate change. The health and wellbeing sector must respond to these growing pressures in order to continue to provide safe, quality care. Adaptation and mitigation policies need to be developed at different scales, including at a regional government level. Numerous challenges exist; for example, the necessity for collaboration between multiple agencies across scales, the tailoring of policies to the health issues specific to regions, and constraints on existing regional and local resources and adaptive capacities, to name a few.
This paper presents a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach used to develop a regional scale climate adaptation plan with the health sector. Starting from a scientific understanding of climate change impact on the health sector in Queensland, Australia, the approach used an innovative engagement strategy to a) better understand awareness of relevant stakeholders about current and future climate change impact on the health of the population and on service provision, b) identify on-ground barriers to effective adaptation faced by the sector stakeholders, c) identify opportunities and benefits which would arise from adaptation, and d) identify what conditions or support stakeholders required to overcome those barriers, take advantage of opportunities, and achieve benefits from adaptation. Analysis of these findings guided the development of specific policy directions for the sector.
We found direct engagement between various key stakeholders such as health service providers (e.g. hospitals), critical infrastructure providers, academics, local government authorities, and sub-sectors such as aged care and early childhood care facilities, was a critical element of translating scientific evidence of climate change impacts on human health into a regional adaptation policy for the health and wellbeing sector. The resulting policy, grounded in the reality and experience of health and wellbeing sector stakeholders, reflects their insights and concerns, and served to develop a level of sectoral ‘ownership’ (not ‘top-down’ imposition) which will be important for its successful ongoing development and implementation.
SOURCE: 18 March 2020.
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