April 9, 2022
National Public Health Week looks at climate change
MOBILE, Ala. — During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the country to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW). This week is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health.
The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) joins APHA in celebrating the 27th NPHW on April 4-10, 2022. This year’s theme, Public Health is Where You Are, celebrates what we know is true — the places where we are, physically, mentally, and societally affect our health and our lives.
Each day during the week has a theme that focuses on the intersections of our lives that affect our health and well-being. Today’s theme is “Climate Change: Taking Action for Equity.”
Climate change poses one of the most significant public health threats today by creating a series of interconnected impacts on human health. We know that while climate change hurts everyone, people of color and those with lower incomes experience greater health harms that white and wealthy people, despite being less responsible for the problem. To address social inequities and improve our health, we need to strengthen partnerships with communities most impacted by climate change, support community-directed solutions, and improve access to healthcare.
To highlight the importance of climate change and equity, the Health Equity Office is featuring Derrick Scott, Director of Environmental Health Services at MCHD. Scott and his team work to address the impacts of climate change in their daily work through inspection services, vector services, and onsite. Each program safeguards the public from unsanitary conditions, limits the spread of vector borne diseases, and ensures the water supply is safe.
Scott has a personal connection with this topic, sharing that structural racism has been a catalyst in pushing lower income communities and people of color into unfavorable living and working conditions. Scott shared that he grew up in a low-income community in Birmingham, plagued by years of pollution from toxic facilities. The residents suffered from numerous health conditions, often not identified until years later. The companies responsible for decades of pollution were required to remediate the contaminated soil and provide monetary compensation to those affected.
Structural racism has pushed lower-income communities and people of color to areas that have fewer resources and more climate vulnerability. Race is the number one indicator for placement of toxic facilities, like the ones Scott mentioned above. People in impacted communities often have limited access to health care and emergency services, increasing their risk of illness, injuries, and death from climate change.
Scott said it best with, “The community in which you live, the mindset of how you feel about where you live, and the overall position of society as it relates to the issues has a dramatic effect on your health.”
This media product was supported by funds made available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, under 1 NH75OT000104-01-00. The content of this media product is that of the authors and does not necessarily stand for the official position of or endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.