July 11, 2016 (West Palm Beach, FL) – The Florida Institute for Health Innovation released a report today on communities from Palm Beach to Key West with the greatest risk for adverse health effects of sea level rise. In conjunction with the South Florida Regional Planning Council and Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Institute for Health Innovation mapped zones most prone to environmental sea level rise impacts, described associated public health risks and identified the region’s socially, economically and medically vulnerable communities most susceptible to sea level rise health effects.
Using an innovative public health framework developed by the Florida Institute for Health Innovation, the research provides a foundation for health-related climate change studies. It informs adaptation, mitigation and infrastructure planning and provides a new method for linking socio-economic vulnerability and health risks to climate change effects. It also includes a tool kit with recommendations for local decision makers and planners.
Funded by the Kresge Foundation, the study findings provide significant indicators for communities and their socio-economic levels. It is also the beginning of better detection and monitoring of vector-borne illnesses such as the Zika virus and chikungunya fever.
“Sea level rise represents an unexpected public health concern,” said Roderick King, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation. “We normally think of populations with the lowest socio-economic status as being the most vulnerable, due to lack of financial resources to pay for health care. In the case of sea level rise, the most vulnerable turn out to be the wealthier populations who can afford to live close to the ocean. They may also be older, with health issues that require regular treatment, and …