Swasti and GCCHE launch ClimateCare champions program

Officially unveiled on Health Day observed by ongoing COP 28, the program empowers community health workers with essential knowledge and skills to tackle the health impacts of climate change

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 has announced the launch of ClimateCare Champions program. This 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, 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, GCCHEadds, “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 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 specialised 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 localised interventions that effectively address specific public health risks posed by climate change.

The program utilises flexible, hybrid modes of delivery, incorporating both in-person and digital elements. Grounded in globally benchmarked research published in top journals, it employs a contextualised curriculum and delivery tailored for local communities in the global South.

Climate changeColumbia UniversityCOP 28partnership
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