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Conference on Human Health and Global Climate Change: Summary of the Proceedings SUMMARY OF PRIORITIES AND STRATEGIES Participants voiced a clear message throughout the conference: Changes in global climate would pose substantial risks to human health, both in the near and long-term. They also hoped that their efforts would help mobilize opinion and action toward the implementation of strategies that would occur as far “upstream” as possible. Conference participants identified and described a number of actions that could be taken to address these potential threats. These strategies are summarized in Table 3 and share certain common threads: identify and work with existing resources, facilities, networks, and information; encourage greater coordination and collaboration among relevant organizations, disciplines, nations, and funding agencies; create from these institutions and funding sources an integrated worldwide network for surveillance and response to indicators of global climate change and emerging diseases; support multidisciplinary research to determine linkages among global climate change, food production, and human health; provide appropriate training for researchers and health professionals, including the creation of centers of excellence and the enhancement of faculty; and establish information and outreach programs.
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Conference on Human Health and Global Climate Change: Summary of the Proceedings TABLE 3. Summary of Suggested Strategies Emanating from the Working Group Sessions Implications for: Short-Term Strategies Long-Term Strategies Global surveillance and response Create and maintain a critical mass of multidisciplinary expertise. Commission the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) or the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study of the problem. Encourage multidisciplinary training at all levels of relevant fields. Disease prevention Compile an inventory of existing resources and facilities to study the environment and climate that could provide remote-sensing data and other indicators for health surveillance. Refocus or develop the public health infrastructure. Education for the medical and public health communities Have the IOM or NAS conduct a study to identify core competencies and training mechanisms in the area of global environmental health, similar to a recent IOM study of environmental medicine. Identify and study existing government and industry programs designed to protect workers from the effects of exposure to the sun. Monitor the effectiveness of these and other programs and, more importantly, disseminate their results. Incorporate questions about climate-related health issues on medical board examinations. International cooperation Incorporate health effects monitoring and reporting into existing global climate change programs. Look for the health effects of global climate change in the information already gathered for other programs. Incorporate global climate change and health issues into sustainable development planning, not only by individual nations, but also by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and similar organizations. Broaden health and climate planning to include environmental issues such as biodiversity. Research and development (R&D) needs Create an integrated, interdisciplinary R&D program that would encourage collaboration among experts and organizations from a wide range of fields and disciplines. Such a program would undertake pilot projects involving case studies that integrate (a) infectious and other diseases; (b) mechanisms of susceptibility, and (c) global change drivers that might exacerbate or mitigate these problems. Identify and address gaps in current knowledge, and disseminate and apply the lessons learned from the case studies. Public outreach and risk communication Establish a volunteer group or forum to continue the communication activities identified and discussed at this conference. (a) Involve the public by encouraging awareness and discussion, and (b) build bridges between the medical and environmental communities.
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