Building Public-Health Capacity for Adaptation in India
Like many developing countries, India faces a disproportionate share of adverse impacts from climate change, including the exacerbation of its already substantial public-health challenges. The government of India has recognized health as a priority area in its climate-adaptation strategy, and many states now include initiatives related to health in their climate action plans; however, internal public-health capacity for climate-change adaptation is limited. The National Institutes of Health, with support from NOAA and the Department of State, collaborated with organizers in India to host a three-day training workshop in 2015 for public-health researchers and professionals on the health impacts of climate change. This activity supports the U.S.-India Partnership for Climate Resilience, launched by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in 2014 to catalyze inter-sectoral action on climate resilience. Health is a critical sector for adaptation and has been recognized as such in the adaptation assessments and plans published by both countries.
The workshop was a first step in developing a network, or community of practice, focused on the core topics of vulnerability, adaptation, and health co-benefits of efforts to reduce climate change. The organizers invited early-career faculty, researchers, and others in the hope of expanding the number of experts who can assist in the country’s adaptation efforts. The importance of community-based participatory research, and in particular, the need to engage community stakeholders in research design and project implementation, was a key focus.
The meeting brought together a range of stakeholders from India, including the Ministries of Health and Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Indian Meteorological Department, National Institute of Urban Affairs, National Health Systems Resource Center, Indian Institute of Public Health, and All India Institute of Medical Research.
Looking ahead, the network’s goal is to help India build resilience in its health sector, particularly through rigorous adaptation planning at the subnational level. Planned activities include holding additional training events, facilitating local research, and assisting with the development of early-warning systems and health-related action plans. Through both domestic and U.S.-India collaborations, the organizers hope that the community of practice will play a central role in building India’s capacity to address the health impacts of climate change.