HKPR Releases Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Report Highlighting Urgent Need for Action
The report identifies key findings on the local health risks of climate change impacts.
PRESS RELEASE | PORT HOPE, ON (June 21, 2023) – A new report released today by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) sheds light on the significant health risks posed by climate change in the HKPR District Health Unit area. The Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment report emphasizes that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also the "biggest global health threat of the 21st century”.
The Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment report presents a comprehensive analysis of the current and future impacts of climate change on the health of residents in the HKPR Health Unit District area. It identifies populations more likely to be impacted by climate change and provides recommendations on building adaptive capacity to reduce the associated health risks.
According to the report, climate change can affect health in two main ways:
- It can worsen existing health conditions.
- It can introduce new health threats in areas where they have not been previously observed.
Climate hazards identified in the report include extreme temperatures, extreme weather, poor air quality, vector-borne diseases, safe food and water, and solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Many populations are at increased risk and can be more vulnerable to climate-related health effects. Individual, environmental or social factors can make some people more sensitive or exposed to climate hazards.
"This report shows that climate change is not a distant problem but a pressing local public health issue that requires immediate attention, said Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit. We must act now to protect the health and well-being of our residents, especially those at greatest risk."
There is a strong need for collaborative efforts to increase adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of climate change. The report calls for action from multiple sectors, including healthcare, environmental agencies, community organizations, and policymakers, to address the identified vulnerabilities and implement strategies to protect health.
Key findings from the Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment report include:
- Temperature: Projections indicate a significant increase in hot days by 2050, leading to heat-related illnesses and mental health impacts, particularly affecting older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and those with limited income.
- Extreme Weather: Flooding, power outages, severe storms, wildfires, and droughts are expected weather hazards, resulting in injuries, mental health impacts, and disruptions to healthcare services.
- Vector-Borne Diseases: Longer warm seasons contribute to the spread of insects carrying diseases, such as black-legged ticks (Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (West Nile virus). Outdoor workers, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.
- Safe Food and Water: Increased temperature and precipitation pose threats to the safety and availability of drinking and recreational water, as well as food security. People living with low income are particularly affected.
- Air Quality: Rising temperatures contribute to higher concentrations of air pollutants, worsening allergies, and respiratory illnesses, and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Traffic-related air pollution zones affect a significant portion of the population, including schools and long-term care facilities.
Many programs of the HKPR District Health Unit address the health risks posed by climate change, including public education, collaborative initiatives, and advocacy for policy changes. The next phase of this work is the development of a Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan that will provide a detailed roadmap for implementing adaptive measures to ensure the future health and well-being of the community.
Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Report | Download Executive Summary
Climate Change Health Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Report | Download Full Report
For More Information
Ashley Beaulac, Communications Manager, HKPR District Health Unit, email@example.com, 1-866-888-4577 x 1212 or Sue Shikaze Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3249.
About the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit provides important public health programs and services to residents in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Our dedicated team of public health professionals, led by our Medical Officer of Health, promote healthy living, protect against disease, and prevent illness and injury. We work with health care providers and community partners to address emerging health issues, service gaps and social inequities to support residents in being well and reaching their full potential. Our values of trust, engagement, accountability, and leadership guide what we do every day. Learn more at www.hkpr.on.ca.