The first World Weather Open Science Conference (WWOSC, held from 17–21 August 2014 in Montreal, Québec), provided an open forum where the experience and perspective of a variety of weather information providers and users was combined with the latest application advances in social sciences. A special session devoted to health focused on how best the most recent weather information and communication technologies (ICT) could improve the health emergency responses to disasters resulting from natural hazards. Speakers from a plenary presentation and its corresponding panel shared lessons learnt from different international multidisciplinary initiatives against weather-related epidemics, such as malaria, leptospirosis and meningitis and from public health responses to floods and heat waves such as in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Participants could bear witness to recent progress made in the use of forecasting tools and in the application of increased spatiotemporal resolutions in the management of weather related health risks through anticipative interventions, early alert and warning and early responses especially by vulnerable groups. There was an agreement that resilience to weather hazards is best developed based on evidence of their health impact and when, at local level, there is a close interaction between health care providers, epidemiologists, climate services, public health authorities and communities. Using near real time health data (such as hospital admission, disease incidence monitoring…) combined with weather information has been recommended to appraise the relevance of decisions and the effectiveness of interventions and to make adjustments when needed. It also helps appraising how people may be more or less vulnerable to a particular hazard depending on the resilience infrastructures and services. This session was mainly attended by climate, environment and social scientists from North American and European countries. Producing a commentary appears to be an effective way to share this session’s conclusions to research institutions and public health experts worldwide. It also advocates for better linking operational research and decision making and for appraising the impact of ICT and public health interventions on health.
Jancloes, M., Anderson, V., Gosselin, P., Mee, C., & Chong, N. J. (2015). WWOSC 2014: Research needs for better health resilience to weather hazards. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(3), 2895–2900. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120302895