In the face of growing health challenges posed by climate change including rising heat-related illnesses, vector-borne and waterborne diseases and mental health issues, Swasti, The Health Catalyst, and the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (GCCHE), Columbia University, proudly announce the launch of ClimateCare Champions program. This innovative initiative aims to equip community health workers (CHWs) with the knowledge and skills needed to address the health impacts of climate change in core geographies of India, Cambodia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and beyond.
This program is a collaborative effort driven by the urgent need to empower communities to enhance their wellbeing despite the looming threat of climate change. Identified as the greatest health challenge of the 21st century, the climate crisis poses severe risks to air quality, food and water security, and amplifies the prevalence of infectious and chronic diseases.
Dr. Angela Chaudhuri, Chief Executive Officer of Swasti states, “This partnership launched during Health Day at COP 28, marks a crucial step toward realizing our vision of a world where all people, especially the most vulnerable, overcome barriers to universal health. CHWs are vital links between health systems and communities. Often, these workers are women embedded within their communities, offering intimate access to households, addressing overlooked needs of women and other genders. They bridge gaps in healthcare and foster trust within the communities they serve.”
Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, Director of GCCHE adds, “With this partnership, we are taking a critical step towards ensuring that health professionals worldwide are well-prepared to address the multifaceted health challenges posed by climate change. The program focuses on vulnerable populations, including new and expecting mothers, infants, as well as outdoor and factory workers. This underscores our commitment to building climate-resilient communities and safeguarding the health of those who are most at risk.”
The ClimateCare Champions is founded on two clear objectives. Firstly, the program aims to empower Community Health Workers with the expertise to adeptly screen, detect, refer, and prevent adverse health effects associated with climate change in the communities they serve. Secondly, it provides specialized training to enhance CHWs’ communication and advocacy skills. This empowers them to serve as trusted messengers, advocating with decision-makers in both public and private sectors. They will promote localized interventions that effectively address specific public health risks posed by climate change.
The program utilizes flexible, hybrid modes of delivery, incorporating both in-person and digital elements. Grounded in globally benchmarked research published in top journals, it employs a contextualized curriculum and delivery tailored for local communities in the Global South.
Swasti is a Health Catalyst that strives for 100 million healthy days for vulnerable communities. Swasti was founded in 2004 as a springboard from where innovative solutions are developed, adapted or scaled to create transformative changes in the lives of the poorest communities. Swasti believes people must be at the center of health systems for it to effectively work for the poor. To add healthy days to the lives of the world’s poor by 2030, the global multi-disciplinary team co-designs demonstrable and scalable solutions models in partnership with communities on the ground and influences policies nationally and internationally. Swasti has varied expertise, from public health to financing and management to design – across sectors of health, worker well-being, WASH, social protection, and gender – providing comprehensive and integrated solutions to achieve community health and wellbeing.
About Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education
Launched in early 2017, the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (GCCHE) was born from a meeting at the December 2015 COP-21 conference in Paris. A special session was held to highlight the need for greater investment in the study of and planning for the health impacts of climate change. The U.S. White House and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s Climate and Health Program spearheaded a pledge that was announced at the session, which was signed by 115 health professions schools and programs around the world, to educate tomorrow’s leaders on the health impacts of climate change. The World Health Organization endorsed the goal of educating health professions’ students and practitioners on the health impacts of climate change and their roles and responsibilities. The GCCHE was then created, with a secretariat based at Columbia University, which supports curriculum development, education and coordinates activities among members on this vital mission.