Infectious Disease and Climate Change Forum

The Infectious Disease & Climate Change Forum, held on October 5th 2021, was a key knowledge exchange event for public health and allied health professionals, researchers, policy-makers, academics, students and trainees committed to sharing their research, best practices and policies to deal with the impacts of climate change on infectious disease in Canada.

The Forum was held by the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), and was funded by PHAC’s Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund. Held virtually on October 5th, the conference aimed to increase participants capacity to:

  • Engage public health leaders and other partners and local organizations from within and outside the health sector;
  • Highlight local, regional, provincial and national level projects;
  • Provide a platform for professionals and providers to discuss gaps and opportunities; and
  • Establish local and national collaborations on infectious diseases and climate change

Additionally, CPHA developed and implemented a national grade 6 poster contest for students to raise awareness about climate sensitive infectious diseases. The project included the development and dissemination of appropriate curriculum resources for teachers.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

CPHA has been funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund for the “Creating a national forum for knowledge exchange, capacity building and collaboration to address infectious diseases and climate change” project to run July 2020 to March 2023.

The Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund (IDCCF) seeks to address the impact of climate change on human health in Canada by:

  • Increasing capacity to respond to the rising demands posed by climate-driven zoonotic (diseases that can be transmitted from animals and insects to humans), food-borne and water-borne infectious diseases
  • Enabling Canadians and communities to have access to timely and accurate information to better understand their risks and take measures to prevent infection
  • Improving adaptability and resiliency to the health impacts of climate-driven infectious diseases, through surveillance and monitoring activities and access to education and awareness tools, to equip:
    • Health professionals with the information they need to provide advice to their patients and clients on climate-driven infectious diseases
    • Canadians and communities with the tools to protect themselves from the health risks associated with climate-driven food-borne, water-borne and zoonotic infectious diseases.

Priority areas for this fund are monitoring and surveillance and education and awareness. Monitoring and surveillance includes enhancing knowledge and expertise of climate driven infectious diseases and collaborative approaches to the collection, sharing, and use of data to support evidence-based public health actions that equip and power Canadians to adapt. Education and awareness promotes the development, uptake, and distribution of materials, tools, and best practices within or across Canadian communities and among vulnerable populations.

Identifying Actions

As a recipient of the PHAC’s Infectious Disease and Climate Change Fund the forum aimed to address increasing capacity and awareness of public health units on the rising demands posed by climate-driven zoonotic, food-borne, and water-borne infectious diseases. Further, an education and awareness program was developed by the CPHA for grade 6 curriculum across the country to raise awareness of climate change and its effects on the spread of infectious disease that included a national poster competition on the effects of climate change on infectious and vector-borne disease.


The Infectious Disease & Climate Change Forum program includes presentations from public health and health care professionals, as well as professionals and multidisciplinary providers (e.g., urban planners, parks and recreation), on current evidence and solutions addressing infectious diseases and climate change. The forums are used to assess the knowledge, capacity building needs as well as establish local and national collaborations on infectious diseases and climate change.

In all, six programs were scheduled over the course of two days with topics covering how climate change is shifting patterns of transmission, how healthcare can better address climate-driven infectious diseases, the impact faced by racialized and marginalized communities, and strategies for adaptation and resilience.

The Infectious Disease & Climate Change: Awareness & prevention in your community Grade 6 Poster Contest was designed to develop and implement a national Lyme disease poster contest for students including the development and dissemination of appropriate curriculum resources for teachers. The program aimed to raise awareness of the emergence and changing patterns of Lyme disease and other climate sensitive infectious diseases in Canada. The program included a ‘Teachers Kit’ including a five-lesson plan, with curriculum borrowing on skills from Science, Math, Language, Geography, Physical Education, Health, and Art to support Grade 6 teachers to nationally incorporate the concepts of vector-borne diseases in lesson plans.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

74 participants attended the two-day forum, and one page summaries will be published by the end of 2021 for each session, identifying learnings, key questions, as well as gaps and opportunities regarding infectious disease and climate change. The poster series received nearly 700 submissions from across the county from 96 different schools. A national winner, as well as regional winners were chosen, with posters displayed on the CPHA website.

Next Steps

The CPHA is looking to put together a series of projects, including a webinar series, podcasts, and publications to further engage interest, bolster content, and increase public health capacity regarding climate change, infectious disease, and public health in the future.


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