By Jasmine Huber, Key Correspondent for the Irish Forum for Global Health
On September 22nd 2017, NUI Galway hosted the Climate Change and Health conference, setting the scene for discussions on how climate change is “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century” (Costello et al., The Lancet, 2009).
Over 80 attendees joined the conference including researchers, students, policymakers, and members of civil society organisations and NGOs working in areas of climate change, health, sustainability, and more. The conference coincided with the news coverage of the hurricanes in the United States – extreme weather events, the increasing frequency of which is likely driven by the changing climate. Evidence of climate change is everywhere, and the coinciding health effects will only increase with time.
The conference’s speakers included Dr. Nicholas Watts from The Lancet Countdown, who showcased evidence of how climate change affects health with graphs, tables, and other figures to drive home the message of climate change dangerous health effects. Joni Pegram from UNICEF UK was also in attendance and focused on health effects from climate change specifically on children. John O’Neill who works for the government of Ireland at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment engaged the audience with climate change effects in Ireland and the potential impacts on Irish health system. Lastly, Dr. Ina Kelly Consultant in Public Health Medicine from the HSE talked about how the Irish health sector can contribute to better health outcomes from climate change, however a global effort is very much needed.
In the afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dr. Jonathan Derham held a workshop session to encourage attendees to think climate change and health as it relates to local settings and what can be done to address the issue. The workshop also allowed attendees to reflect on the conference and discuss with their peers on next steps. The session’s outputs are now being compiled for use in creating a contribution to the National Dialogue on Climate Action.
Jasmine Huber worked as a Professional Intern working with the Irish Forum for Global Health and ESTHER Ireland. Jasmine is a graduate of McMaster University in Canada, and holds a MSc. in Global Health from Trinity College Dublin.
Please click here to view sessions and presenters’ slides from Climate Change and Health: The Challenges and the Opportunities.