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5 Takeaways from HHS’ Environmental Justice Strategy

5 Takeaways from HHS’ Environmental Justice Strategy

Thursday’s release by the Health and Human Services Department of a draft plan to address environmental health issues is very similar to its 1995 environmental justice strategy. However, it places more emphasis on climate change and communities most impacted by extreme weather.

The department is seeking public input to determine if its strategy adequately addresses key environmental issues. Experts believe HHS should focus on addressing the industry’s own carbon footprint, waste, and occupational health hazards.

Here are five key points to take away from the draft

1. Scant details on funding

The initative has not received funding and the pot’s size will determine its effectiveness.

The World Health Organization EstimatesClimate-related health issues will be a major problem by 2030. It is estimated that they will cost between $2 billion and $4 billion annually. As with xx, historically marginalized communities will suffer the most from these health issues.

HHS has announced that it will create community-based partnerships with local and state health departments in order to reduce disparities between federally funded social assistance programs. The department will also provide funding for cooling units, energy stipends, and other support services in areas that are most severely affected by extreme weather events.

The funding for research at the National Institute of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention to better understand the effects of climate change on health increased by $200 million annually in 2021. The American Jobs Plan spent $1.5 billion on public health funding. Some of this money will be used to build resilience to climate change.

2. New emphasis on economic and racial disparities

HHS’ new environmental justice component focuses on racial, economic and community disparities.

HHS plans to improve linguistic abilities and cultural competency in healthcare delivery and advance research into factors that contribute to racial disparities among Black and Indigenous people.

Paloma Bermer, University of Arizona professor of Public Health, said that they are spending a lot of money on structural racism and determinants of human health and environmental exposures. “That’s been quite exciting.”

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3. Reduce industry emissions and reduce environmental impacts

Beamer stated that while the plan focuses on environmental inequities, there are opportunities to reduce the healthcare industry’s environmental footprint.

It is estimated that the U.S. healthcare market is worth approximately $1.5 trillion Responsible8.5% of national carbon emissions. According to the National Academy of Medicine, 25% of global health sector emissions are attributed to the United States.

See Also

In a SeparateClimate change initiative, HHS is focusing internally on reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience across federal operations. It also offers incentives for the private sector.

“Our plan provides a roadmap to ensure that we all work together in order to address the threats of health and well-being associated with climate change for all Americans, particularly those most vulnerable,” a spokesperson for HHS said. “The plan also ensures the continuity of operations for health facilities in the event of extreme weather events, and fosters healthy greenhouse gas mitigation and resilience efforts within the public health sector.

4. Recruitment and training of the workforce

The draft plan proposes to recruit people from underserved areas to fill environmental hazard cleanup, emergency response, construction, and emergency response positions. It also establishes environmental justice training programs for federal staff and healthcare workers.

Beamer stated that HHS should target these same communities to expand the number of primary care clinicians in public and private health.

5. Occupational hazards

Although it is not discussed in the draft but occupational health hazards should be included in the conversation. Beamer stated that more research is needed. According to the CDC in the United States, workplace injuries and illness cost the country $250 billion annually in healthcare.

Regulations relating workplace safety are typically under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Department of Labor. However HHS funds research on workplace illness and injuries through the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health.

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