Increasing risks of asthma, Lyme disease, and heat stroke are impacting kids' health, and the one thing they all have in common is climate change.
TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2019 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), in partnership with leading health organizations, launches Make It Better, an initiative to engage health workers and families on how they can help protect children from the harmful impacts of climate change. This is the first public health initiative in Ontario to raise public awareness about the links between climate change and children's health, as research reveals increasingly concerning evidence.
- Longer, drier and warmer summers are increasing key triggers for asthma,1 which is one of the leading causes of hospital admissions for children in Canada.2
- Between 2021 to 2050, the Toronto area could see over 30 extreme heat days annually, and over 50 extreme heat days by 20803 – and children are among the most vulnerable.4
- Extended, warmer seasons mean Lyme disease-carrying tick populations are growing, spreading, and active longer.5 Children between the ages of five and nine are particularly vulnerable to Lyme disease.6
"Climate change is one of the most critical threats to human health – and children are among the most vulnerable," says Pegeen Walsh, Executive Director at OPHA. "As health professionals, we all have a responsibility to kids and their parents to raise awareness of these risks and give people the tools and information they need to protect their families."
The World Health Organization describes climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. "There are immediate steps that parents can take now to minimize climate-related health risks to their children," says Walsh. "But ultimately we need to act on climate change. That's the only way we can make things better for children's health in the long run. If we don't, these problems will certainly get worse."
#MakeItBetter provides information about how children's health is being impacted by climate change alongside specific tips for parents and caregivers on how to avoid these risks. The initiative also offers information and tools for people to learn more and act on climate change within their communities.
"With #MakeItBetter, we're asking people to take a simple but incredibly meaningful pledge: stay informed, share what they know and support action on climate change," explains Walsh. "Being aware of these risks, and talking openly about them, is the first step."
For more information about the initiative visit: makeitbetterontario.ca.
About the Partnership
The #MakeItBetter initiative was developed by the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) with the support of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors – Ontario Branch, Asthma Canada, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, as well as OPHA's volunteer-driven workgroups consisting of experts who work in various areas of public and community health.
Created in 1949, the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brings together a broad spectrum of groups and individuals concerned about people’s health. Members are united by OPHA’s mission of providing leadership on issues affecting the public’s health and strengthening the impact of people who are active in public and community health throughout Ontario. This mission is achieved through professional development, information and analysis on issues affecting community and public health, access to multidisciplinary networks, education and awareness activities around healthy public policy, and the provision of expertise and consultation. Through their involvement in OPHA’s workgroups, networks and constituent societies, OPHA members have been leading change on a wide range of issues – alcohol, cannabis, health equity, poverty reduction, chronic disease prevention, increased access to oral health care, reproductive health, food literacy, healthy eating and nutrition, environmental health, climate change and designing walkable communities, among others.
1 Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals: Module 3 – Climate Change Health Impacts across Canada. April 2019
2 Canadian Institute for Health Information (2018). Asthma hospital stays by children and youth. Retrieved from: https://www.cihi.ca/en/asthma-hospital-stays-by-children-and-youth
3 Climate Change in Canada: Climate Atlas of Canada [Internet]. Climateatlas.ca. 2018 [cited 30 October 2018]. Available from: https://climateatlas.ca/
4 Health Canada (2011). Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events: Toolkit for Public Health and Emergency Management Officials. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/climate-change-health/communicating-health-risks-extreme-heat-events-toolkit-public-health-emergency-management-officials-health-canada-2011.html
5 Bouchard C, Dibernardo A, Koffi J, Wood H, Leighton PA, Lindsay LR. Increased risk of tick-borne diseases with climate and environmental changes. Can Commun Dis Rep 2019; 45(4):81
6 Gasmi S, Ogden NH, Lindsay LR, Burns S, Fleming S, Badcock J, Hanan S, Gaulin C, Leblanc MA, Russell C, Nelder M, Hobbs L, Graham-Derham S, Lachance L, Scott AN, Galanis E, Koffi JK. Surveillance for Lyme disease in Canada: 2009–2015. Can Commun Dis Rep. 2017;43(10):194-9. https://doi.org/10.14745/ccdr.v43i10a01. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/canada-communicable-disease-report-ccdr/monthly-issue/2017-43/ccdr-volume-43-10-october-5-2017/surveillance-surveillance-lyme-disease-canada-2009-2015.html
SOURCE Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)