As part of National Public Health Week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on 10 April to explore the effects of climate change on public health. Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) opened the hearing by stating, “Leading scientists from across the globe have studied climate change and know that our health is at risk. Extreme weather events will become more common and more severe in the future.” Chairman Kennedy continued by affirming that discussions regarding public health should be central in climate change planning.

Also in conjunction with National Public Health Week, Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a resolution highlighting the connection between climate change and human health.

The Senate hearing followed one by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, also intended to discuss effects of climate change on human health. Howard Frumkin, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, testified, “To the science, there is strong evidence the carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas … and that there is strong evidence that climate change affects public health in many ways.” He gave a summary of the health impacts of global warming, including an increase of food-borne and waterborne infectious diseases and migration into new areas of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, malaria or dengue fever as seasonal patterns change. “Over the next few decades in the United States, climate change is likely to have a significant impact on health,” said Dr. Frumkin.

The connection between climate change and public health will be discussed at the AIBS Annual Meeting entitled, “Climate, Environment, and Infectious Diseases” to be held 12 – 13 May in Arlington, VA, where Dr. Frumkin will be one of the plenary speakers, along with Dr. James Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other leading experts on the subject. For more information about the 2008 AIBS annual meeting, please visit http://www.aibs.org/annual-meeting/annualmeeting2008.html.

 


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