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NIH requests input on climate change and health

July / August 2021 | Volume 20 Number 4

Family views flooding outside their homeThe NIH is requesting advice on how to best advance six research priorities related to climate change and health.

Extreme weather events, rising sea levels and other aspects of climate change pose substantial threats to human health. Addressing these has been identified by the Biden Administration as an urgent priority that requires “a whole-of-government approach.” At the NIH, a working group has been meeting to consider how the agency can enhance research on the health implications of climate change in the U.S. and globally. More than nine Institutes, Centers and Offices are participating in the effort, which is co-chaired by NIEHS and Fogarty. The committee is inviting stakeholder input to inform the process.

In a Request for Information (RFI) published in the NIH Guide, respondents are asked to provide advice on six research priorities related to climate change and health—innovative approaches, scientific infrastructure, partnerships to address environmental injustice, rapid response capacity, training needs to build a diverse climate change and health research work force, and dissemination and translation of research findings into strategies that protect health.

The RFI notes that climate change threats influence a broad range of health concerns including communicable and noncommunicable diseases, injuries, hazardous exposures, mental health and death. Some impacts are immediate—from hurricanes, heat waves, floods and droughts—while others result from more gradual changes, such as rising sea levels. In the U.S. and globally, structural racism and discrimination place communities of color, under-resourced, health disparity populations and other historically disadvantaged communities at higher risk from the health impacts of climate change. Understanding the health implications—including potential health benefits—of actions to prevent, mitigate and adapt to climate change offers opportunities to improve the social and environmental determinants of health, especially for at-risk communities.

Responses to the RFI must be e-mailed to NIEHS-RFI-CCHH@niehs.nih.gov by Sept. 17, 2021. The RFI is available at https://bit.ly/NIH_CChealth.

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