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Platform for Preparedness

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The BCCDC assembles climate expertise online

In British Columbia, ensuring the resilience of our healthcare system means preparing for the impact of climate change on public health and the provision of health services. This involves anticipating shifts in natural ecosystem processes and preparing for disruptions to essential resources like food and water, or the increased prevalence of diseases. Extreme weather events such as wildfires, floods, and heat waves also pose significant threats, often resulting in heightened risks of injury, restricted access to essential services, power outages, and damage to local infrastructure.

Adapting to this complex challenge requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach. In 2023, the Climate Preparedness & Adaptation Program (CPAP) was established at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The aim of the CPAP is to serve as a centralized hub of technical expertise, capacity building, and coordination for climate change and public health activities in BC. It supports provincial and regional climate adaptation planning with data, science, research, surveillance, and knowledge translation.

One of the first initiatives the CPAP team launched was the online Climate & Public Health Community Centre. The Community Centre is an online platform that provides access to a wealth of resources on climate adaptation and public health, including virtual gatherings, interactive workshops, recorded webinars, data portals, and discussion boards. For example, several BCCDC Grand Rounds webinars on climate-related topics, such as the climate impact on water and food security, were organized, recorded and shared.

Within its first year, the Community Centre has welcomed over 160 individuals from across the Provincial Health Services Authority, the First Nations Health Authority, BC regional health authorities, the BC Ministry of Health, as well as climate and health experts and partners from other governmental and non-governmental agencies.

The Community Centre provides a gathering place for public health professionals who are working towards a common goal,” says Angela Yao, Senior Scientist at the CPAP.

As the health sector grapples with changing climate conditions, the Community Centre has become a hub for information sharing, collective learning, capacity building and streamlined coordination of climate-related public health endeavours across the province.