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Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jun 20;125(6):065001. doi: 10.1289/EHP405.

Lessons Learned on Health Adaptation to Climate Variability and Change: Experiences Across Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

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Department of Global Health and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington, USA.
Evidence and Policy on Environmental Health Unit, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization , Geneva, Switzerland.



There is limited published evidence of the effectiveness of adaptation in managing the health risks of climate variability and change in low- and middle-income countries.


To document lessons learned and good practice examples from health adaptation pilot projects in low- and middle-income countries to facilitate assessing and overcoming barriers to implementation and to scaling up.


We evaluated project reports and related materials from the first five years of implementation (2008-2013) of multinational health adaptation projects in Albania, Barbados, Bhutan, China, Fiji, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. We also collected qualitative data through a focus group consultation and 19 key informant interviews.


Our recommendations include that national health plans, policies, and budget processes need to explicitly incorporate the risks of current and projected climate variability and change. Increasing resilience is likely to be achieved through longer-term, multifaceted, and collaborative approaches, with supporting activities (and funding) for capacity building, communication, and institutionalized monitoring and evaluation. Projects should be encouraged to focus not just on shorter-term outputs to address climate variability, but also on establishing processes to address longer-term climate change challenges. Opportunities for capacity development should be created, identified, and reinforced.


Our analyses highlight that, irrespective of resource constraints, ministries of health and other institutions working on climate-related health issues in low- and middle-income countries need to continue to prepare themselves to prevent additional health burdens in the context of a changing climate and socioeconomic development patterns.

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