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Americares and Harvard to Expand Project to Increase Climate Resilience at Frontline Clinics Globally

  • September 20, 2022
  • Climate Change
  • Global
  • Americares President and CEO Christine Squires shakes hands with Chelsea Clinton on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Meeting in New York City. Credit to Yael Gottlieb / Americares.

Project to be introduced in at least three more countries over the next five years.

Stamford, Conn. – Sept. 20, 2022 – Americares has made a commitment to expand a groundbreaking climate resilience project that provides new ways to protect people most at risk from the climate crisis.

The health-focused relief and development organization announced “Climate Resilience and Health Equity at the Frontlines of Healthcare” yesterday, during Climate Week, as a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2022 Meeting in New York City. Americares President and CEO Christine Squires joined Chelsea Clinton on stage to announce the commitment—a joint effort between Americares, the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), and the Harvard Global Health Institute with founding support from Biogen. 

“Expanding this project will protect the health of even more people in communities facing extreme weather because of climate change,” said Squires. “This effort will focus on improving care for low-income patients and marginalized communities who often lack the resources to prepare for climate emergencies and struggle to recover.” 

The commitment will bring a first-of-its-kind climate resilience toolkit developed by Americares and Harvard Chan C-CHANGE to a global audience. 

The toolkit— designed for free and charitable clinics and community health centers in the United States—contains tailored resources to help health care providers, patients and administrators mitigate the health impacts of climate change. The first module, with resources to help clinicians and patients manage extreme heat, was released this summer. Additional resources for providing care amid wildfires and hurricanes will be added this fall. 

“Whether it’s extreme heat, pollution from nearby factories, or risks from wildfires and storms, patients served at frontline health clinics encounter disproportionate health burdens from climate change in every aspect of their lives,” said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE. “Our mission is to work with clinics to help them understand and prepare for climate shocks so they can deliver high-quality care to protect their patients’ health.” 

Americares, Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and Harvard Global Health Institute aim to adapt the toolkit for use in at least three low- and middle-income countries over the next five years. The toolkit will be modified to address unique climate risks in each country and materials will be translated into local languages. Americares is actively seeking both funding and implementing partners to join the commitment. 

As a founding donor, Biogen has been instrumental in the development of the climate resources and implementation of the first three years of the project. The support is part of Biogen’s Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives™ initiative to advance climate, health and equity.  

“The climate crisis is a health crisis, and it’s critical to put patients at the center of climate action plans, especially patients particularly vulnerable to environmental impacts,” said Johanna Jobin global head, corporate reputation & responsibility at Biogen and executive director of the Biogen Foundation. “We’re so proud of the work we’ve done so far with Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and Americares to promote health equity and bring new resources to U.S. clinic staff and providers. Now, we’re looking forward to expanding these resources globally, aiming to protect more patients from the climate health effects happening now.” 

The damage that can be inflicted by a changing climate makes it one of the greatest risks to human health. The World Health Organization projects climate change will cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year from 2030 to 2050 largely from heat, malnutrition and other health conditions. People experiencing the greatest impact from floods, drought, major storms and food shortages caused by climate change are often in lower-income countries and disadvantaged communities. 

Americares programs help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters; increase accessibility, availability, affordability and acceptability of medicine and medical supplies; and improve and expand health services, prevent disease and promote good health. The organization carries out health programs in over 20 countries, including Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Liberia, the Philippines, Tanzania and the United States, including Puerto Rico. 

The Clinton Global Initiative brings together established and emerging global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI works with partners to development new, specific and measurable actions in climate resilience, health equity and inclusive economic recovery and growth. 

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