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A review of frameworks for developing environmental health indicator for climate change and health

Climate change is affecting human health and wellbeing, particularly in the emergence and spread of diseases. There has been an increasing interest to identify and develop specific indicators to monitor human health vulnerability to direct and indirect climate change impacts and detect early health impacts for targeted interventions.

This paper asserts that, given the complexity of environmental health issues, it is important to use a systematic structured framework to select and develop a relevant range of Environmental Health Indicators (EHIs) to measure and monitor the impacts of climate change on human health.

The authors review eleven frameworks and conclude that the Driving force-Pressure-State-Exposure-Effect-Action (DPSEEA) framework is best suited for developing EHIs to assess and monitor human health vulnerability, to aid the design and targeting of interventions and measure the effectiveness of climate change adaptation and mitigation activities.

It is noted that DPSEEA EHIs, which incorporate the monitoring and integration of human, animal and environmental (including plants) health data, have the potential to triangulate and identify emerging ecological problems. In essence, it is argued, acting as a warning system for ecosystem disruption allowing interventions to be applied higher up the causal chain than would have been possible based on environmental monitoring or health surveillance alone.