American Journal of Public Health Research. 2014, 2(3), 113-118DOI:
Abstract: Climate change can be seen as a threat to sustainable development by undermining global poverty alleviation efforts and seriously impacting on successfully achieving the outcomes as envisaged by the Millennium Development Goals. There also exists severe implications for food security, clean water, environmental health and human settlements as the potential impacts of climate change bears much significance especially for the sustainable development of developing countries, such as South Africa. Therefore the role of the Environmental Health sector which is a key component in the protection of public health in South Africa, needs re-addressing as regards the potential impacts of climate change on Environmental Health Services. These potential impacts necessitates forward thinking on what adaptation measures should be considered by this sector, staffed primarily by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), and how can these then be implemented proactively – given that in the South African context, EHPs have a Government regulated scope of practice that covers fourteen key job functions. Therefore, this article for each key job function, considers potential impacts of climate change followed by a discussion of possible solutions and challenges. However, despite adequate awareness on climate change and its impacts, it is evident that there are many challenges, inclusive of immense financial, technical and human resource constraints, still ahead. Therefore, a systematic approach by EHPs to assess, prevent and control climate change impacts and other interacting public health issues is vital and will be crucial to protect the health of affected populations in the future.