Climate change, migration and health: Closing the institutional gap in the adaptation of health systems | Duke Kunshan University
Climate change, migration and health: Closing the institutional gap in the adaptation of health systems
Nadav Davidovitch, MD, MPH, PhD

Epidemiologist and Public Health Physician, Professor and Director at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

Mar 12th 2019 12:00 to 13:00
Room 3107, Academic Building
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 14:45

Summary of talk:     

Background: Migration is a growing global phenomena. Complex political and socio-economic settings are the root drivers of vulnerability to environmental change, but environmental changes are also a factor contributing to political and socio-economic instability. Specifically, desertification and climate change increase scarcity of water, food and energy resources and in turn impose stress on local populations. While the effects of climate change may vary in different regions of the world, migration is expected to increase as climate change impacts are projected to escalate in the next decades. Health systems in Africa, which shoulder most of the burden of climate migration, as well as health systems in receiving countries outside Africa, are not prepared for facing these trends. In my presentation I will review climate change-related health impacts throughout the migration cycle, and present a framework for adaptation of health systems to climate migration.

Methods and findings: First, I briefly explore the pathways in which climate change impact the health of migrants throughout the migratory process. Specifically, I examine the impacts of water safety, food security, infectious diseases and energy poverty on migrants’ health during pre-departure, travel, destination, interception and return. Then, the main challenges in providing healthcare to climate migrants is identified, for health systems throughout the migration process. Based on estimations of future trends of climate migration in different climate change scenarios, an adaptation framework for health systems is proposed.

Conclusions: Health systems in both countries of origin and destination countries are forced to respond to increasing climate related migration, but are not prepared to provide healthcare to the increasing number of climate migrants, that is expected to rise. Similarly, Schools of Medicine and Public Health worldwide, are not preparing the next generation of clinicians and health system managers to the expected rise in environmental refugees. In my presentation I will suggest integrating climate migration into health system strengthening processes, and present policy recommendations for health systems and Schools of Medicine and Public Health facing the challenges of the increasing trend of climate refugees. Capacity building should be encouraged while training, research, policy-making and intervention planning should consider structural changes that will increase inter-sectoral collaborations within and outside the health sector as well as within and between countries, based on ecohealth/one health approaches.

Brief Biography:

Nadav Davidovitch, MD, MPH, PhD is an epidemiologist and public health physician. He is a Full Professor and Director, School of Public Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. His research deals with health policy, public health, one health/ecohealth, health promotion, migration and health, public health ethics, and global health.

Prof. Davidovitch served as Head, Epidemiology Section, Army Health Branch (2003- 2005) and as Public Health Officer at the Central District, Public Health Services, Ministry of Health, Israel (2007-2008). He was a Fulbright visiting professor at Department of Sociomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, Columbia University (2005-2006) and a visiting professor at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois – Chicago (2008 and 2016). He was nominated as Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians, UK (2017).

Prof. Davidovitch serves on several international and national committees, among them: Executive Committee, European Public Health Association; Head of Middle East Chapter, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology; Israel national advisory committee for health promotion; joint committee on environmental health (Israel Ministry of Health and Ministry for the Protection of the Environment); Israeli Health Impact Assessment Working Group. He authored or co-authored over 130 papers and book chapters, coedited six volumes and books and published his work in leading medical and health policy journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Journal of Pediatrics, Vaccine, Social Science and Medicine, and Law & Contemporary Problems.