Lichtveld touts equity in climate change science at NAM annual meeting


At the 2021 National Academies of Medicine’s annual meeting, Crossing the Policy and Equity Chasm: Lessons from Compounding Health Crises, NAM President Victor Dzau said in his welcome remarks, “The challenges we face today are global, complex, widespread, and interconnected.” He spoke of the need to face persistent existential threats with evidence-based policy designed for all.

“We need to communicate with the public the value of science and medicine and inform decisions that affect health and impact people’s everyday lives. And the power of science to create a better world not just for a few, but for everyone.”

EOH’s Maureen Lichtveld, dean of Pitt Public Health, served on the planning committee for “IG19” – one of thirteen interest groups each featuring a panel of scholars discussing current global challenges affecting science, medicine, technology, and health. 


At the end of the discussion, she was tasked with summarizing IG19 and presenting where we go from here.

“The absolute bottom line for us in the area of science is that we are responsible for making climate and health science work for those most vulnerable. Across all presentations, every single presenter talked about issues of equity and issues of vulnerability,” Lichtveld said.

She talked about equity and social vulnerability, pointing out that climate change and wildfires have a reciprocal relationship. She talked about a lack of data on drought and the need to address the whole system when responding to disasters.

“A climate focus must include science, resilience, protecting public health, and special emphasis on environmental justice,” she summarized.

“In the area of practice, the speaker brought us back to what really matters: CDC surveillance and vulnerable communities and showed why vulnerable populations are such an emphasis. Nature-based solutions will help us address more resilience, adaptation and mitigation measures.

“Lastly, the need for transdisciplinary data for action – our effort today doesn’t stand alone. This meeting was proceeded by a summit convened by the Consortium of Universities of Global Health that looked at climate and health through three lenses, energy, transportation, agriculture, green financing, and policy implementations and there were some very provocative issues such as revisiting whether cheap food is really cheap – it might be cheap for humans but definitely not cheap on the eco-system.”

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