Online Program

Environmental resilience and public health

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Bernard D. Goldstein, MD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of PIttsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
The concept of resilience has been receiving increasing attention as a theoretical and practical basis for understanding and mitigating the environmental response to major stressors. The growing literature on environmental resilience generally has considered the response of ecosystems, ranging in scale from microareas to the planet; or of species, particularly those that are endangered. Resilience is also central to medicine and public health, and the term is increasingly being used in relation to response to disasters. Aging of individuals can be seen as a loss of resilience. The loss of the ability of an aging individual to isolate and buffer an insult to one organ is similar to the loss of feedback loops that would otherwise buffer ecosystems from damage and that are being impaired by population growth, global climate change and other stressors. Examples of public health activities that promote resilience of individuals and of communities include vaccination to help the body fight off an infectious agent and lessen the spread of disease; and worker safety and health training to decrease the likelihood of injuries. Public health has a strong and well-tested theoretical base that is highly relevant to the growing theoretical base underlying practical approaches to ecosystem resilience – which in turn can inform public and environmental health.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain the concept of resilience as it is now being applied to community disaster response. Describe the relation between resilience and core public health principles. Identify three examples of how community public health initiatives would strengthen resilience in response to a major environmental disaster.

Keyword(s): Disasters, Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: my major professional activities are related to the public health implications of environmental stressors and to the scientific framework for sustainabilitiy. I served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Community Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, from 1980-2001, and Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, 2001-2005.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.