Environmental health care – Adaptation
Adaptation planning for environmental health care is begun by identifying the risk factors caused by climate change. The adaptation strategy and plans for exceptional circumstances should be prepared in cooperation with the municipality's other sectors.
Preparations for adaptation plans only just starting
Impacts of climate change on the municipal environmental health are still relatively unknown. In all likelihood, tasks of environmental health care will not change due to climate change, although increasing extreme weather events and spread of new species and diseases may change the focus of tasks. Heat waves increase the risks related to food hygiene and health care, while floods and drought add to deviations in water hygiene. Tasks related to the monitoring and mapping of new plant and animal diseases and invasive species are likely to increase. Special circumstances (caused by weather, for example) may become more common and require updated action plans.
The most important preparation is mapping threats
Identifying the dangers and risk factors caused by the impacts of climate change are the most important adaptation measures. The key starting point for precautionary planning is considering and mapping possible threats. For the implementation of regular monitoring, it is important that municipalities cooperate to arrange environmental health care.
Similarly, when adapting to various health risks and drawing up municipality-specific plans, cooperation and coordination in health care and social welfare is of key importance. For example, periods of hot weather lasting several days require particular attention in hospitals and nursing homes. The National Institute for Health and Welfare and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health provide nation-wide consultation.
The adaptation goals set for environmental health care should include the preparation of an adaptation strategy and plans for exceptional circumstances. A guide compiled by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health includes instructions for preparing a plan for exceptional situations.