Why Public Health programs should factor in the weather

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Public Health programs often ignore a very critical factor that affects the health of many. That factor is the weather. Since time immemorial, weather has affected the general population. It is not uncommon to see certain diseases make their appearance during the turn of weather. A good example in India is the cough during the advent of winter in northern parts of India.
Community Health programs need to incorporate more of the meteorological department data in their programs. In other words the Health departments need to collaborate more with Met departments in order to focus on prevention which is the focus of public health in the first place.
The study reportedly looked at 7,054 people who attended casualty with severe head pain, and examined whether the weather conditions in the past three days was linked to the frequency of these headaches. It found that an increase of 5ºC raised the risk of a severe headache within 24 hours by 7.5%. The study was Dr Kenneth J. Mukamal and colleagues from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston carried out this research
(Source: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/03March/Pages/Hotweatherheadache.aspx)
There is another pilot run in one of the NHS trust hospitals where they teamed up with the local Met office to send out Public Health alerts to patients registered with the trust. These were community health center patients that were suffering from Congestive Heart failure and an increase in humidity was actually a precursor to triggering a heart attack.

A similar collaboration between community health centers, health departments and weather office could really help reduce the incidence of health issues that are triggered by the weather. Community health programs are run on prevention and such steps would definitely help in balancing the health economics of these prevention programs.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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