caption Credit: Photo by Marlon del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Climate Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems

The Climate Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems TWG will bring together experts in health systems, preparedness, climate change mitigation/ adaptation, and the affected communities to promote policy-relevant action-orientated research and practice. This will support the development and implementation of evidence-based strategies that strengthen climate resilience within health systems.

Discover the impactful initiatives we undertook at COP28 by delving into the detailed insights shared on our blog ATACH or Detach. Gain comprehensive insights into our engagements and outcomes at COP28 by exploring the dedicated news story covering our action. Immerse yourself in the narrative of our commitment to positive change and sustainable practices.

“The risks associated with climate-related disasters do not represent a scenario of some distant future. They are already a reality for millions, and they are not going away” (UN political affairs chief DiCarlo). Health systems are at the forefront of climate response and are themselves vulnerable to climate hazards, through damage, destruction and/or disruption of critical infrastructure (water, energy, IT) which limits their ability to promote and protect the health of populations they serve.

Over 25% of global health care facilities already lack basic water services. The health sector is also part of the problem though and accounts for around 4.6% of global emissions. We have an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate health sector leadership on emission reduction and contribute to national and global climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5oC.

COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for strengthening the ability of healthcare systems to anticipate, prevent, detect, respond, and recover from overlapping risks (e.g. climate change) in a sustainable way. As countries recover and realign policies, programs, and plans, we as health professionals have the responsibility to advocate for an inclusive, green, healthy more resilient future that enables populations to thrive.

Objectives

  • Establish and strengthen a dynamic community of diverse stakeholders (funders, public health researchers/educators/practitioners, decision-makers, NGOs, etc.) with an interest in generating, sharing, and applying knowledge to understand the vulnerability of and support climate resilience and sustainability within national and local healthcare systems
  • Develop and drive a global research and capacity-strengthening agenda around health systems strengthening and climate change impacts.
  • Provide structured opportunities for HSG members and external participants for knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer support for conducting climate vulnerability and adaptation assessments (V&As) at population level and/or health care facility levels
  • Promote evidence-informed practice through case studies for scaling up climate adaptation action within health systems
  • Engage relevant health policy, research, and healthcare professionals to advocate health sector leadership for climate action within health systems at global, national, and local levels.

Activities of the TWG will be structured around six components (2021-25):

  • National and local vulnerability/adaptation assessment
  • Integrated risk monitoring · Sustainable health infrastructure
  • Health workforce leadership
  • Climate-informed health programmes
  • Emergency preparedness (early warning for extreme weather)

These activities will be delivered through seminars, webinars, high-level panel discussions, and policy round tables. In support of capability strengthening and knowledge mobilisation, we aim to collate a repository of climate adaptation case studies within health systems globally.

Join us

Health Systems Global’s Climate Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems Thematic Working Group (CRSHS TWG) brings together experts in health systems, preparedness, climate change mitigation/adaptation, and the affected communities to promote policy-relevant action-oriented research and practice. If you’d like to join our group, please complete this form.

Facilitators

Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH

Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH

Chair

Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga

Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga

Vice-chair, Africa

Naomi Beyeler, Ph.D., MPH, MCP

Naomi Beyeler, Ph.D., MPH, MCP

Vice-chair, North America

Shibaji Bose

Shibaji Bose

Vice-chair, Asia

Upasona Ghosh, Ph.D.

Upasona Ghosh, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Asia

Sari Kovats, Ph.D.

Sari Kovats, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Europe

Susannah Mayhew, Ph.D.

Susannah Mayhew, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Europe

Denise Thomson, MA MBA Ph.D.(c)

Denise Thomson, MA MBA Ph.D.(c)

Vice-chair, North America

Carol Zavaleta, MD, Ph.D.

Carol Zavaleta, MD, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Latin America

Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH

Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH

Chair

Associate Professor of the Practice of Global Public Health and Inaugural Director, Planetary and Global Health Program, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine, Philippines

Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH is the Associate Professor of the Practice of Global Public Health and Inaugural Director of the Planetary and Global Health Program of the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine in the Philippines. Recently, he was also the Chief Planetary Health Scientist and Co-Founder of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Renzo is a member of the National Panel of Technical Experts of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, and convener of Planetary Health Philippines – a community of Filipino scholars and practitioners for advancing the new discipline of planetary health. He is also an Associate Researcher of the University of Copenhagen School of Global Health. An Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leader and Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, Renzo has served as consultant for various organizations including the World Health Organization, World Bank, USAID, Wellcome Trust, and Health Care Without Harm, and been a member of numerous international committees, advisory and editorial boards, and professional networks, including the editorial advisory board of The Lancet Planetary Health, and five Lancet Commissions such as The O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism, Structural Discrimination and Global Health (Georgetown University) and The Lancet Commission on Sustainable Healthcare (Yale University and University of British Columbia). Currently, he is also the Asia lead for two international initiatives related to climate change and mental health – Connecting Climate Minds funded by the Wellcome Trust, and COP2 (Care for People and Planet) – and is the chair of the Thematic Working Group on Climate-Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems of Health Systems Global. Renzo obtained his Doctor of Public Health from Harvard University and Doctor of Medicine from the University of the Philippines Manila, and received further training from Oxford, Copenhagen, Western Cape, and East-West Center (Hawaii). He has traveled to and lectured in nearly 60 countries and 100 universities across the world; published more than 150 reports and articles in scientific journals, books, and popular media; and directed and produced short films that communicate the message of planetary healing to the world. In 2020, he was included by Tatler Magazine in its Gen.T List of 400 leaders of tomorrow who are shaping Asia’s future. In 2022, Renzo was named one of The Outstanding Young Men and Women of the Philippines for his contributions to health and medicine and for pioneering the field of planetary health in the country. In 2023, the St. Luke’s Planetary and Global Health Program which he founded was awarded the inaugural CUGH-Velji Planetary Health Innovation Award by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga

Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga

Vice-chair, Africa

Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer, Presbyterian Church of Ghana Health Services; PhD candidate, Environment and Sustainability, University for Development Studies, Ghana

Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga is a Health/Development and sustainability professional with 20 years of national and international experience working with government, INGOs, local NGOs, academia, and development partners in West & Central Africa. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate with a research focus on implementing climate-resilient health systems in low-resourced sub-national settings. He is a member of the People's Health Movement (PHM) and served on the Global Steering Council from 2012 and 2015 on behalf of the West and Central African region. He has worked extensively in different capacities in health governance, social accountability for health, young people’s SRHR, women’s socio-economic empowerment, and community participation in health governance in partnership with local and international consortia. Mr. Abugnaba-Abanga holds an MPhil in Development and is currently the Ghana Country Research Lead for EU- Horizon 2020 financed Implementation Research on Group care for antenatal and parenting (GC_1000) implemented in 4 LMICs and 3 High-income countries. He was a guest researcher at the International Development Studies, Faculty of Geosciences and Spatial Planning of the University of Utrecht between January and June 2022. He focused on developing a research design for a study on climate-resilient health systems in low-resourced sub-national settings of Ghana.

Naomi Beyeler, Ph.D., MPH, MCP

Naomi Beyeler, Ph.D., MPH, MCP

Vice-chair, North America

Director, Climate Change and Global Health Initiative, University of California Institute for Global Health Sciences, USA

Naomi leads research and advocacy initiatives on climate policy and finance. She previously served as Co-Director of the UCSF Evidence to Policy Initiative, managing programs of work on climate change, health systems strengthening, and health financing across the Asia Pacific and Africa regions. She has over a decade of public health experience working in California and globally on health issues ranging from climate change to immigration and maternal and child health. Naomi serves as the co-lead author for the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Policy Brief. She has a master’s degree in public health and city Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from the University of California San Francisco.

Shibaji Bose

Shibaji Bose

Vice-chair, Asia

Independent consultant, India

Shibaji Bose is a creative and visual research methods consultant working in the intersection of dominant and implicit narrative spaces in climate change, WASH, and health systems in remote and climatically fragile zones in South Asia and Africa. A former journalist, he has published extensively in journals and has also co-curated photo voice exhibitions and directed films. His works have been featured in Wellcome Trust and Cannes Film Festival and Health Systems Global symposiums.

Upasona Ghosh, Ph.D.

Upasona Ghosh, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Asia

Assistant Professor, Public Health Foundation of India, India

Upasona Ghosh has done Ph.D. in Social anthropology and MPhil in Women’s studies. Her doctoral research was on social determinants of child health in the Indian Sundarbans- a globally known climate change hotspot as a part of health systems research to improve access, to affordable and quality health services for the marginalized. Her decade-long research focuses on the impacts of climate change on community health and health care delivery systems. Her research aims to understand the social vulnerabilities of the communities experiencing climate change and also throws light on the Planetary health dynamics impacting transformational changes toward climate-resilient health systems. Her aim is to build up community-based practical knowledge toward a sustainable pathway of change in the health policy process for vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.

Sari Kovats, Ph.D.

Sari Kovats, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Europe

Associate Professor, Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Sari Kovats is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, Environments and Society at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the leading research institution on public health in the UK. Dr Kovats is the Knowledge Mobilisation Lead for the NIHR-funded Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health, a research programme on climate change impacts, public health adaptation, and the health benefits of low carbon development, in partnership with UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Dr Kovats is the co-lead for the Belmont-funded CHAMNHA (Climate, Heat and Maternal and Neonatal Health) research consortium. Sari has a PhD in environmental epidemiology and her research focuses on methods to assess the health impacts of climate change and develop adaptation options at the national level. Sari was co-lead for the chapter on Health and the Built Environment of the evidence report for the UK’s Third Climate Change Risk Assessment (2021) and Coordinating Lead Author for the multi-disciplinary regional chapter on Europe in the Fifth Assessment Report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She has also co-authored several key scientific assessments on climate change and health at national and regional levels. She has provided expert advice on climate change, climate variability, global environmental change and health to WHO, WMO, and the World Bank.

Susannah Mayhew, Ph.D.

Susannah Mayhew, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Europe

Professor of Health Policy, Systems and Reproductive Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK

Susannah Mayhew is Professor of Health Policy, Systems and Reproductive Health in the department of Global Health and Development at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is co-Director of the LSHTM Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH). She teaches widely across LSHTM on health policies and systems, including responses to climate change; community responses to crises; gender, rights and reproductive health. Her research specialisations are in policy analysis, policy implementation, governance and accountability research – including community engagement; health systems and systems integration research – including responses to epidemic outbreaks and to climate change; and reproductive health and rights. She has led multi-partner research projects in numerous countries across sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. At present, she works primarily in West and East Africa on cross-sectoral responses to climate and health challenges, including reproductive health and zoonotic outbreaks, with a focus on community engagement. She also travels regularly to Ghana, the country of her birth.

Susannah has held £20 million in research funding over the past 20 years. Key projects she has led include the multi-country Integra Initiative evaluating the integration of HIV and reproductive health systems and services (www.integrainitiative.org) (Gates-funded); climate governance (http://www.globalclimategovernance.org) (ESRC funded); health systems strengthening in post-Ebola Sierra Leone (https://responding-to-ebola.org) (MRC funded). Currently, she leads a multi-partner NIHR-funded Global Health Research Group, PARES (Partnerships for Resilience), researching community-shaped health systems responses to climate and health challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, with a strong focus on community co-production: http://lshtm.ac.uk/PARES.

Denise Thomson, MA MBA Ph.D.(c)

Denise Thomson, MA MBA Ph.D.(c)

Vice-chair, North America

Denise Thomson is based in Alberta, Canada. She has worked for over twenty years in the areas of health promotion and health services research, particularly focused on knowledge translation and implementation science. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Alberta, studying how Canadian health systems can respond to the health impacts of climate change. Denise is the founder and Convenor of the Climate-Health Working Group in Cochrane (formerly The Cochrane Collaboration), which is focused on applying the tools of evidence synthesis and knowledge translation to supporting decision-makers.

Carol Zavaleta, MD, Ph.D.

Carol Zavaleta, MD, Ph.D.

Vice-chair, Latin America

Carol was born to a Quechua family in a city on the North Coast of Peru. Carol holds a Ph.D. in Health Geography from McGill University, Canada, and is a certified Peruvian medical doctor. Her research is focused primarily at the social and environmental determinants of Indigenous health. Carol is particularly interested in climate change health and food systems resilience, with a predominant focus on how Indigenous people are experiencing and adjusting to climate change. Carol has been working with Shawi and Ashaninka (in the Peruvian Amazon) Indigenous peoples, using a mix methods approach, and community based participatory research methods, including virtual, and in person interviews, participant observations, photo voice, seasonal food systems analysis, and more recently developing tools and instruments to characterize and measure Indigenous diet and food biodiversity. Carol has collaborated with international research networks including Indigenous Health and Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) and COVID-19 Observatories in Indigenous people. Carol holds a Wellcome Trust international fellowship to complete her research in the Peruvian Amazon.

Coordinator

Karen Ceballos, MD, MBA

Karen Ceballos, MD, MBA

Coordinator

Karen Ceballos, MD, MBA

Karen Ceballos, MD, MBA

Coordinator

Research Fellow, Climate Change and Health Systems, Planetary and Global Health Program, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine - William H. Quasha Memorial, Philippines

Karen Ceballos is the Research Fellow for Climate Change and Health Systems at the Planetary and Global Health Program, St. Luke's Medical Center College of Medicine, Philippines. She is a trained medical doctor with a master’s degree in business administration from the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, Philippines. As a budding Planetary and Global Health leader, she is co-leading her team in building climate-resilient health systems in the Philippines, starting with two coastal municipalities. 

Publications and Resources

Call for submissions to the Climate Resilient Health Systems Special issue

By Guest Editors: Jo Borghi, Renzo Guinto, Susannah Mayhew & Dell Saulnier

Beyond their documented risks to human health, climate hazards such as floods, heat extremes, hurricanes and drought are affecting health systems around the world. Current projections show that risks arising from these hazards will intensify significantly in the coming years. There are calls to better understand the range of health system vulnerabilities to climate-related events and to increase system resilience (defined here as the capacity to absorb, adapt or transform systems when faced with climate stressors or disturbances), to assure long-term health system performance. The 8th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, due to be held in November 2024, will focus specifically on ways of building just and sustainable health systems in the context of climate change.

The deadline for submission to the special issue is 30th April 2024. More information can be found here.

Download the flyer

Envisioning health systems in the planetary health era – a proposal for action

By guest contributors Renzo R. Guinto, Susannah Mayhew, Upasona Ghosh, and Shibaji Bose

The HPSR community is operating as if the climate is stable – it is not. As a human civilization, we are not on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, which means catastrophic health consequences in the long run to which today’s health systems are poorly equipped to respond.

Climate-Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems: An Emerging Space for New Voices in Health Policy and Systems Research

By Renzo R. Guinto (Section Editor for PLOS Global Public Health’s Planetary and Environmental Health Section), Revati Phalkey, Upasona Ghosh, Shibaji Bose

For many years, climate change has not been a major focus of the international health policy and systems research (HPSR) community. But there is no denying that the climate emergency is already posing an existential threat – while COVID-19 is wreaking its own havoc – to population health and health systems worldwide, as summarized in the “code red” assessment of the recent reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Lancet Countdown.

Climate, health, and COP26 in the time of COVID-19: Five asks for the global health sector

By guest contributor Dr. Renzo Guinto, Section Editor for PLOS Global Public Health’s Planetary and Environmental Health Section

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) announced in its Sixth Assessment Report that there is no region of the world that is any more immune to the negative impacts of climate change. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called this report a “code red” for humanity – which was later reinforced by the 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.

Vulnerable communities need support for health systems as they adapt to climate change. While there has been much focus on closing the global climate financing gap—just $79.6 billion of climate finance was mobilized in 2019—there is another critical gap that must be urgently addressed. It is the largely nonexistent funding for health sector adaptation to climate change.

As the pandemic subsides, the vision of a new era that would emphasize sustainability and equity has faded, and the global economy seems to be returning to business as usual. But planetary health, which includes our own, requires that we realize just such a vision.

COVID-19 response and recovery investment need to advance greater equity for health access, along with a level of health care resilience underappreciated before the pandemic. It also underscores the imperative of accelerating climate action worldwide.

Healthcare professionals need to be CCLEAR: Climate collaborators, leaders, educators, advocates, and researchers. In this Special Issue of the Journal of Climate Change and Health, professionals in the healthcare arena share their experiences and solutions for mitigating and adapting to the rapidly progressing changes around us.