Climate and health
Creating climate change-resilient systems to promote better health outcomes for women, adolescents and children
Climate change is the greatest and most pressing global challenge of our time. It affects everything, including health and wellbeing. And because climate change exacerbates gender inequality, it can affect women and children the most severely.
Climate change is a far-reaching issue and our work on climate change reflects this. It includes:
- Working long-term with our partners to apply a systems lens to climate change and build stronger, more climate-resilient health systems.
- Building connections across systems and sectors, bringing people together to develop shared solutions and innovations which support people and planet to thrive
- Applying a climate lens to our programmes to ensure they support those who need it most, including women and children
- Scaling innovations which support greater equity and inclusion and preparedness and response to natural disasters and public health emergencies.
We do this by:
- Designing health infrastructure with climate resilience in mind
Options works with governments and partners to create and strengthen shock resilient and climate-sensitive health systems and support inclusive, data-driven climate adaptation and mitigation across the health sector. Options’ Nepal Health Sector Support Programme has been at the forefront of retrofitting and designing safe and welcoming hospitals and health facilities that can withstand earthquakes of high magnitude, all while reducing energy loads and pollution.
- Enabling clean growth and mitigating environmental risk
An increase in climate change-induced hazards is a reality. Options provides advice and support to national and subnational governments to assess vulnerability to climate change-induced hazards such as flood or fire and mitigate environmental risk, with the needs and rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised populations at the forefront. We adapt policy and national construction guidelines for health infrastructure to ensure that buildings are suitable for projected changes in climatic conditions and support local and global aims to reduce waste and emissions.
- Increasing access to clean, reliable and renewable energy and WASH services
Options supports governments, communities and partners to address energy, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) gaps in the health sector using renewable, energy-efficient solutions. This includes designing financial incentives in the health sector. This reduces the burden on mains systems, enhances climate resilience and reduces carbon emissions and pollution, while also cutting energy-related costs in health facilities. This reduces the strain on already over-stretched budgets and improves the quality of care provided to women and their newborns.
- Convening coalitions and building capacity to use evidence to drive climate action
If we are to make a difference, every sector must act to address climate change. Options builds capacity to use data to drive climate action, influence policy, promote clean growth and reduce the health system’s own carbon footprint. We convene coalitions of multi-stakeholder groups across sectors, civil society and community groups for improved awareness and action in the health sector. We build the leadership capacity and agency of stakeholders to use evidence to hold governments to account and ensure resources are used in the best possible way.
- Enhancing health system adaptation, preparedness and response
Options believes in strong multi-sectoral engagement to address the interconnections between public health, animal health, agriculture, and environment, using a ‘One Health’ approach to reduce opportunities for future infectious disease outbreaks. Options is a critical partner to federal and subnational governments in managing the response to the COVID-19 emergency, strengthening day-to-day resilience as well supporting responsiveness to acute crises. We used our COVID-19 readiness tool in several countries to assess facilities’ ability to prepare and respond to the outbreak, including designing COVID-19 treatment wards at major hospitals. During the Ebola crisis, we improved management of vital laboratory data in Sierra Leone to ensure lifesaving Ebola test results could be turned around more quickly.
- Enabling communities in urban centres to thrive
In cities vulnerable to climate change and with growing urban poor populations, Options supports decision-makers to make evidence-informed decisions to achieve improved health and wellbeing for urban communities. Building healthy cities requires an integrated and coordinated approach across multiple sectors to map and assess city health (disease prevalence, population, health facilities), identify service gaps, and align priorities and budgets.