Managing the health effects of temperature in response to climate change: challenges ahead

Cunrui Huang, Adrian G Barnett, Zhiwei Xu, Cordia Chu, Xiaoming Wang, Lyle Turner, Shilu Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOther

75 Citations (Scopus)


Although many studies have shown that high temperatures are associated with an increased risk of mortality and morbidity, there has been little research on managing the process of planned adaptation to alleviate the health effects of heat events and climate change. In particular, economic evaluation of public health adaptation strategies has been largely absent from both the scientific literature and public policy discussion. Objectives: We examined how public health organizations should implement adaptation strategies and, second, how to improve the evidence base required to make an economic case for policies that will protect the public s health from heat events and climate change. Discussion: Public health adaptation strategies to cope with heat events and climate change fall into two categories: reducing the heat exposure and managing the health risks. Strategies require a range of actions, including timely public health and medical advice, improvements to housing and urban planning, early warning systems, and assurance that health care and social systems are ready to act. Some of these actions are costly, and given scarce financial resources the implementation should be based on the cost-effectiveness analysis. Therefore, research is required not only on the temperature-related health costs, but also on the costs and benefits of adaptation options. The scien tific community must ensure that the health co-benefits of climate change policies are recognized, understood, and quantified. Conclusions: The integration of climate change adaptation into current public health practice is needed to ensure the adaptation strategies increase future resilience. The economic evaluation of temperature-related health costs and public health adaptation strategies are particularly important for policy decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415 - 419
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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