Managing health risks in a changing climate: Red Cross operations in East Africa and Southeast Asia

E.R. Coughlan, L. Nerlander, F. Monasso, M. van Aalst, G. Mantilla, E. Muli, T. Nguyen, G. Rose, C. Rumbaitis Del Rio

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While climate variability and change affect global patterns of disease, there are few examples of methods that effectively integrate climate into health programming. This study examines a Red Cross Red Crescent pilot project in Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Indonesia that incorporated climate information and considerations in health operations. Our investigation looks at three elements of programming: baseline community perceptions of climate and health, integration of climate information in operations, and resulting community-level risk reduction behaviour. (1) Through community focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and household surveys, our research reveals that potential health effects of climate variability and change are a key concern at the community level. (2) Project implementors used climate information to design educational materials and health contingency plans to inform when and where disease prevention activities should be concentrated. This climate-based disease anticipation and improved sharing of incidence data aimed to quickly detect and respond to changing disease patterns in a variable climate. (3) Subsequently, community-level risk reduction behaviour significantly increased in project locations. This pilot is evidence that climate information and considerations can be readily integrated into health programming to account for changing risks, using existing disease prevention techniques to address priority concerns of vulnerable communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-207
JournalClimate and Development
Issue number3
Early online date3 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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