Assessing and Informing Health System Resilience to Climate Change

Lead PI: Prof. Adam Sobel , Dr. Suzana J. Camargo , Chia-Ying Lee , , Andrea Low

Unit Affiliation: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

November 2019 - Ongoing
Africa ; Mozambique
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: Climate change is having a profound and escalating impact on the health of people around the world. Acute events such as cyclones, tornadoes and flooding are predicted to become more common and severe, as are slower-moving changes such as drought, extinction of pollinators, and temperature extremes. These changes not only augment economic stress, and forced displacement but also hinder access to and engagement in health care. In areas affected by climate change, acute events can physically block routes to health facilities, damage infrastructure, and displace health care workers and magnify health disparities. As health ministries around the world prepare for future emergencies, there is a need to focus on anticipating, preparing and alleviating climate-related disruptions in health systems.

ICAP at Columbia University (ICAP) and the Earth Institute are collaborating to develop models for health system resilience focused on chronic diseases – starting in Mozambique in southern Africa. Mozambique recently suffered from two catastrophic cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, which affected more than 1.8 million people and severely damaged infrastructure and agriculture. In Mozambique, the National Institute of Health (INS) is the leading institution for issues related to climate change and health. Since 2016, activities around climate and health have burgeoned in the country, with the establishment of the Platform of Climate, Environment and Health within the National Observatory of Health (NHO). Current activities are related to understanding the impact of climate extreme events on health, including vulnerability and adaptation assessments of the health systems; and the development of risk maps of climate sensitive diseases (malaria and diarrheal diseases) according to the forecast for the next rainy season, in order to optimize an early warning system for malaria and cholera. To implement these activities and share relevant data, INS works in collaboration with the National Meteorology Institute (INAM).

To strengthen the country’s response to future disasters, particularly with respect to the management of chronic diseases, ICAP, the Earth Institute, INS, INAM and other national partners will conduct a post-disaster review and situational analysis of areas most impacted by the recent cyclones as well as the local and national responses to these events. This will include conducting key informant interviews; review of the early warning system and response plans; and distilling lessons learned and recommendations to inform future national strategies and responses. These activities will form the foundation for the development of comprehensive preparedness and response plan for resilient health systems. The work will also serve as a model to inform other countries in the region as they plan for similar threats.


Earth Institute Earth Solutions


ICAP at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health


climate change extreme events climate change adaptation climate extremes climate and health


Modeling and Adapting to Future Climate