Climate change is among the major challenges for health this century, and adaptation to manage adverse health outcomes will be unavoidable. The risks in Ontario - Canada's most populous province - include increasing temperatures, more frequent and intense extreme weather events, and alterations to precipitation regimes. Socio-economic-demographic patterns could magnify the implications climate change has for Ontario, including the presence of rapidly growing vulnerable populations, exacerbation of warming trends by heat-islands in large urban areas, and connectedness to global transportation networks. This study examines climate change adaptation in the public health sector in Ontario using information from interviews with government officials.
Fifty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted, four with provincial and federal health officials and 49 with actors in public health and health relevant sectors at the municipal level. We identify adaptation efforts, barriers and opportunities for current and future intervention.
Results indicate recognition that climate change will affect the health of Ontarians. Health officials are concerned about how a changing climate could exacerbate existing health issues or create new health burdens, specifically extreme heat (71%), severe weather (68%) and poor air-quality (57%). Adaptation is currently taking the form of mainstreaming climate change into existing public health programs. While adaptive progress has relied on local leadership, federal support, political will, and inter-agency efforts, a lack of resources constrains the sustainability of long-term adaptation programs and the acquisition of data necessary to support effective policies.
This study provides a snapshot of climate change adaptation and needs in the public health sector in Ontario. Public health departments will need to capitalize on opportunities to integrate climate change into policies and programs, while higher levels of government must improve efforts to support local adaptation and provide the capacity through which local adaptation can succeed.
For emerging public health risks such as climate change, the Canadian federal government has a mandate to provide information and resources to protect citizens' health. Research is a key component of this mandate and is essential if Canada is to moderate the health effects of a changing climate. We assessed whether federal support for climate change and health research is consistent with the risks posed. We audited projects receiving federal support between 1999 and 2009, representing an investment of Can$16 million in 105 projects. Although funding has increased in recent years, it remains inadequate, with negligible focus on vulnerable populations, limited research on adaptation, and volatility in funding allocations. A federal strategy to guide research support is overdue.
Cites: Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Mar;7(3):1018-3520617016
Cites: Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2010 Jan;40(1):2-1820114000
Characterize and examine the prevalence of food insecurity in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, and identify stressors affecting the food system.
A mixed-methods study using quantitative food security surveys and semi-structured interviews.
Food security surveys (n=61) were conducted with a random sample of 6% of Qeqertarsuaq's population. Semi-structured interviews (n=75) allowed participants to describe in their own words their experience of food insecurity and permitted in-depth examination of determinants. Key informant interviews were used to provide context to local perspectives.
Prevalence of food insecurity (8%) is low. However, interviews reveal a more nuanced picture, with women, adults aged 55+, and non-hunters reporting constrained access to Greenlandic foods. Barriers restricting traditional food access include changing sea ice conditions, reduced availability of some species, high costs of hunting and purchasing food, tightening food sharing networks, and hunting and fishing regulations.
While the Qeqertarsuaq food system is relatively secure, the research highlights susceptibility to social, economic and environmental stressors which may become more prevalent in the future.
Food insecurity is an ongoing problem in the Canadian Arctic. Although most studies have focused on smaller communities, little is known about food insecurity in larger centres.
This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of food insecurity during 2 different seasons in Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, as well as identify associated risk factors.
A modified United States Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey was applied to 532 randomly selected households in September 2012 and 523 in May 2013. Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine potential associations between food security and 9 risk factors identified in the literature.
In September 2012, 28.7% of surveyed households in Iqaluit were food insecure, a rate 3 times higher than the national average, but lower than smaller Inuit communities in Nunavut. Prevalence of food insecurity in September 2012 was not significantly different in May 2013 (27.2%). When aggregating results from Inuit households from both seasons (May and September), food insecurity was associated with poor quality housing and reliance on income support (p
Malaria, once endemic in Canada, is now restricted to imported cases. Imported malaria in Canada has not been examined recently in the context of increased international mobility, which may influence incidence of imported and autochthonous cases. Surveillance of imported cases can highlight high-risk populations and help target prevention and control measures. To identify geographic and individual determinants of malaria incidence in Ontario, Canada, we conducted a descriptive spatial analysis. We then compared characteristics of case-patients and controls. Case-patients were significantly more likely to be male and live in low-income neighborhoods that had a higher proportion of residents who had emigrated from malaria-endemic regions. This method's usefulness in clarifying the local patterns of imported malaria in Ontario shows its potential to help identify areas and populations at highest risk for imported and emerging infectious disease.
Injury is the leading cause of death for Canadians aged 1 to 44, occurring disproportionately across regions and communities. In the Inuit territory of Nunavut, for instance, unintentional injury rates are over three times the Canadian average. In this paper, we develop a framework for assessing vulnerability to injury and use it to identify and characterize the determinants of injuries on the land in Nunavut. We specifically examine unintentional injuries on the land (outside of hamlets) because of the importance of land-based activities to Inuit culture, health, and well-being. Semi-structured interviews (n = 45) were conducted in three communities that have varying rates of search and rescue (SAR), complemented by an analysis of SAR case data for the territory. We found that risk of land-based injuries is affected by socioeconomic status, Inuit traditional knowledge, community organizations, and territorial and national policies. Notably, by moving beyond common conceptualizations of unintentional injury, we are able to better assess root causes of unintentional injury and outline paths for prevention.