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Kresge joins national public health group in kicking off 2017 as “The Year of Climate Change and Health”

Environment, Health

Climate change is an imminent threat to public health in the United States, and The Kresge Foundation is joining the American Public Health Association (APHA) in broadcasting that message loud and clear.

At a kickoff event in Washington D.C. last week, the APHA declared 2017 to be “The Year of Climate Change and Health.” Kresge’s Jalonne White-Newsome, along with more than 100 partners including representatives from several Kresge grantees, attended the event.

The APHA is aiming to recruit new partners throughout the year to spread the word about the impact of climate change on people’s daily lives. It is also deploying a suite of educational materials, activities and public outreach to help planners, policymakers, elected officials and citizens make informed decisions about protecting Americans from increasingly severe storms, heat waves, flooding and vector-borne diseases, among other threats.

White-Newsome, a senior program officer with the foundation’s Environment Program, said Kresge’s Environment and Health programs are both committed to amplifying the APHA’s message, and to assist at-risk communities in girding for the effects of climate change on their most vulnerable residents.

“The elderly, the poor, those with chronic illness and low-income communities that are disproportionately composed of people of color are at the greatest risk from injury, disease and death related to climate change,” said White-Newsome. “We echo the APHA’s call for strong climate change strategies and interventions that protect the public health of all people, but particularly those most at risk.”

David Fukuzawa, managing director of Kresge’s Health and Human Services programs, said the initiative is timely. “Climate change is impacting people right now, and those impacts need to be evaluated in terms of public health,” Fukuzawa said.

Tools to keep abreast of the APHA’s outreach include a webinar series, fact sheets, and social media toolkit. The organization’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo this fall will also be centered around climate change and health.  Several of Kresge’s current grantees working at the intersection of climate and health were also in attendance at the kickoff event: Health Care Without Harm, Trust for Public Land,  and the Medical Society Consortium on Climate Change and Health.