Dealing with Disasters Fast and Slow: Health System Resilience for COVID-19 and Climate Change

Contact Person : John Balbus,

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The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that many Health Systems around the world are poorly prepared for the co-occurrence of acute and chronic stressors.  What will it take to enhance the resilience of health systems?

One critical step will be to make better use of data and information on environmental drivers of health at a variety of time scales, from the immediate time scales required to manage increasingly severe extreme events, to the decadal time scale required to understand potential changes in diseases and other health threats related to climate change.  Health systems need to have situational awareness of multiple co-occuring disasters, including weather-related disasters, while at the same time require improved anticipation of emerging risks and future stressors, like zoonotic disease spillover and food or water insecurity.

In addition to weather and climate data, climate resilient health systems will need to incorporate data on land use and land cover, demographics and migration, agricultural systems and nutrition, etc.  Effective use of data on weather, climate and other environmental drivers will require enhanced collaboration between the various related scientific communities to improve mutual understanding of requirements and build capacity in all sectors.  Moreover, the development of successful public health resilience will be aided by implementation and evaluative research analyzing the effectiveness of early warning systems and risk reductions measures.

Participants in this webinar will be able to:


  • Describe how health systems have dealt with co-occurrence of COVID -19 pandemic and climate-related disasters
  • Identify key steps in operationalizing the WHO framework on Climate Resilient Health Systems
  • Describe global efforts to enhance cooperation between health and hydrometeorological services and the provision of meteorological and climate services for health
  • Describe approaches to developing rapid research responses to disasters