Climate change is not only an environmental issue - it’s a public health issue. From vector-borne diseases to hazard-related injuries, we expect an increase in a multitude of health impacts.
We have already observed illness and loss of life associated with an increasing number of extreme weather events here in Oregon. As an example, we’re seeing more frequent heat waves during the summer months, resulting in more heat-related hospitalizations. Certain populations, like low-income families, outdoor workers, children, pregnant women and elderly people are most vulnerable to these health risks.
In addition to exasperating current inequities, climate change also presents intergenerational inequities. Greenhouse gases persist in the atmosphere for centuries, creating uncertainty and risk for generations to come. Taking action today helps us prepare and protect the future health of our children and grandchildren.
In Oregon's Public Health Division, advancing health equity is at the core of our mission. Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances. To learn more, see the CDC's report Promoting Health Equity: A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health (pdf).
Social Vulnerability Assessment
Oregon does not yet have a clear and common methodology to assess and identify populations most vulnerable to climate-related risks. Recent experiences in implementing the CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Framework demonstrated that local jurisdictions lack the capacity to quantify and assess the interactions of social vulnerability and health risks related to climate change.
In response to this need, we are developing a climate-focused social vulnerability assessment in partnership with Oregon’s Environmental Public Health Tracking program.
Climate and Health Equity Resources