Climate, Environment and Health Action Plan and Information System (CEHAPIS)

WHO/Europe and the European Commission collaborated to assess current and future health risks from climate change on the European Union (EU)’s population and to identify suitable policies to address them.

CEHAPIS distilled from global research a concise up-to-date review of current knowledge on climate change and health impacts; proposed a range of policy options and assessed their social, environment and economic impacts; and developed a set of indicators for monitoring impacts over time.

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent in the European Union.  Direct effects mostly occur through changes in extreme weather events, while indirect effects are mainly induced by changes in environmental, social and economic determinants.

Main areas of public health concern related to climate change

  • Extreme weather: heat-waves, cold-spells, storms, floods, droughts and fires are increasing in frequency, intensity and duration, endangering fundamental health determinants and increasing threats of injuries, communicable and non-communicable diseases, infrastructures damage and deterioration of mental health.
  • Changes in the distribution of infectious diseases: vector and rodent-borne, food and water-borne, as well as respiratory diseases are changing in space and time.
  • Air quality, food and water security: these three major determinants of human health and well-being are significantly altered by long-term changes of local and global climates as well as by sudden extreme weather events.

Priority areas for policy

Three policy areas have been identified as key to promotinge action in EU Member States and protect population health. The various policy options are mutually dependent and complementary, with co-implementation producing a cumulative positive effect.

  • Integrate health into climate change adaptation and mitigation policies of other sectors
    It is important to properly include health into national adaptation strategies to ensure that an integrated cross-sectoral approach is taken to tackle the impacts of climate change, specifically the impact on health. Guidance has been developed by the WHO and there are some very good examples in EU’s Member States and their neighbouring countriess that can be shared. It is also important to assess if the proposed adaptation measures in other sectors are healthy.
  • Integrate climate change into public health policies and action
    This means integrating health into generic preparedness planning, increasing climate-sensitive disease surveillance, including climate change and health into health curricula, and providing green and climate-resilient health care to protecting the health of millions of EU citizens. Many of the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have high and immediate health and economic co-benefits.
  • Increase health intelligence and awareness on climate change and health
    A better understanding of the risks and effects of climate change on health can reduce the burden on the health system by preventing some of the direct health effects of climate change, and motivate and facilitate both behavioural impact and societal support for actions. Bridging the knowledge gaps—through tools and specific research—and integrating health as a measure for assessing adaptation effectiveness isare important.

The key to long-term and sustainable success is a strong and coherent leadership of all EU countries in collaboration with WHO/Europe, the European Commission and collaborating agencies in the environment and health arena.