Engaging stakeholders in developing heat wave strategies

CEPH recently developed and launched a set of communication materials that are designed to improve the health of those most affected by heat waves in China. The project was commissioned by United Kingdom Department for Foreign International Development (DFID) and conducted in conjunction with Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the Adapting to Climate Change in China initiative (ACCC).

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, duration and intensity of heat waves across the globe and this will result in a significant public health burden. The project initially conducted an extensive literature review that included medical literature and analysis of existing heat wave plans from across the globe. Populations with increased exposure and limited adaptive capacity will be the hardest hit by the health burden of extreme heat and it is essential to act pre-emptively to reduce mortality and morbidity amongst these communities. The materials developed are targeted towards the key care providers of the three groups that are identified as being impacted the most by heat waves;

  1. Elderly individuals, chronic disease sufferers and those in care institutions
  2. Workers exposed to intense heat such as heavy manual labourers, outdoor workers, and kitchen staff
  3. Young children, particularly those under five years of age.

Centre director Dr Cordia Chu explained the importance of the project stating “it is crucial to bridge the gap that exists between scientific data, academic reports and the end-user. The resources developed under this project act to communicate scientific evidence to inform policy and practices through translational research that meets the end-users needs.”

Dr Cordia Chu, Dr Ray Huang and Kandice Keogh travelled to China to conduct two focus group forums, one in Hangzhou at the Zhejiang Provincial Centre for DiseaseControl and Prevention and one in Guangzhou at the Guangdong Centre for Disease Control. Ms Keogh said that “the focus group forums were an excellent way to engagekey health care leaders and allowed us to identify gaps that exist in current health care strategies and develop materials that were locally relevant”.

A number of the forum attendees commented that the materials were “pioneering” and that theywere “the first to focus systematically on heat wave strategies in China”.