Current health surveillance and information systems are not equipped to process connections between environmental change and human health. Climate-smart health surveillance (CSHS) is a new type of health surveillance that will weave together nationwide epidemiological, climate, agricultural, and environmental information systems. CSHS integrates these disparate data streams to examine the climate-related drivers of ill health. As a scientific advisor for the World Bank’s Climate-Health Stress Test in Madagascar, I helped to co-develop a strategy to transform the Malagasy health information system into CSHS, harnessing multi-sectoral ministerial action on climate preparedness toward risk reduction strategies for healthcare. Since 1999, I have been working in Madagascar at the intersection of environmental conservation and human health, developing strong relationships with key partners in the Malagasy government. CSHS recognizes the inability of the current health system to manage climate-related shocks and, in effect, increases its resilience to climate change. Our research will focus on integrating five important climate-health relationships into a new information platform: 1) drought-induced crop failures and malnutrition; 2) deforestation and vector-borne disease transmission; 3) natural disasters and mental health; 4) sea temperature-driven harmful algal blooms and diarrheal disease; and 5) coral bleaching-induced seafood scarcity and malnutrition. These factors can be remotely sensed and integrated into existing health surveillance infrastructure. Once we characterize these relationships, we can forecast health risks and mobilize preparedness efforts and healthcare delivery around such predictive models.
World Bank. 2018. Climate Change and Health Diagnostic: Madagascar. Risks and Opportunities for Climate-Smart Health and Nutrition Investment. Investing in Climate Change and Health Series. Eds. Bouley, T., Golden, C.D., Guillemot, J., Ebi, K. Washington, DC.