NEHA March 2024 Journal of Environmental Health

health. These programs address immediate health risks and ensure basic health stan- dards. Proactive programming focuses on health disparities and climate change and addresses long-term, systemic issues that aect public health outcomes. • Leveraging Data and Technology: Employ- ing data analytics and technology (e.g., using real-time air and water quality moni- toring) can enhance the eciency of tradi- tional programs. Big data can also identify health disparities to inform targeted inter- ventions in underserved communities. •Integrating Climate Change Consider- ations Into Traditional Programs : Climate change impacts every aspect of environ- mental health. For example, warmer tem- peratures can increase foodborne illnesses, requiring more stringent food safety proto- cols. Water quality programs must adapt to the challenges posed by extreme weather events (e.g., floods, drought) that are exac- erbated by climate change. •Collaborative Approaches and Cross- Sector Partnerships: Partnerships between public health departments, environmen- tal agencies, community groups, and the private sector can create synergies. Such collaborations can pool resources and expertise, leading to more eective and comprehensive programs. •Community Engagement and Educa- tion: Engaging communities in the design and implementation of health programs ensures that these programs are more responsive to community needs. Educa- tion campaigns can raise awareness about the importance of environmental health and empower communities to participate in proactive health measures. •Policy Integration and Advocacy: Inte- grating health considerations into all

areas of policymaking—including urban planning, transportation, and housing— can address both environmental health and health disparities. Public health lead- ers can advocate for policies that address the root causes of health disparities and climate change impacts. • Building Resilience in Vulnerable Popu- lations: Proactive programs should focus on building resilience in communities most aected by health disparities and cli- mate change. This work includes ensuring access to healthcare, clean air and water, and safe housing, particularly in histori- cally marginalized communities. •Workforce Development and Training: Training the public health workforce in the latest environmental health practices and in understanding the implications of climate change is essential. Developing skills in community engagement, data analysis, and interdisciplinary collabora- tion prepares the workforce for integrated health approaches. •Sustainable Funding Models: Securing sustainable funding is crucial for both maintaining existing programs and invest- ing in new initiatives. Innovative funding models, such as public–private partner- ships and grant programs focused on cli- mate and health, can support these eorts. • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Continuous Improvement: Regular monitoring and evaluation of both traditional and proac- tive programs ensure that these programs are meeting their objectives and eciently using resources. Continuous improve- ment models can help adapt and refine programs in response to new challenges and emerging data. •Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: Proactive programs must address

the broader social determinants of health— such as poverty, education, and access to green spaces—to eectively tackle health disparities. Integrating these consider- ations into environmental health program- ming ensures a more holistic approach to public health. • Embracing a Health Equity Lens: Apply- ing a health equity lens to all environmen- tal health programs ensures that the needs of the most vulnerable are not only met but also prioritized. This approach acknowl- edges that health disparities are often a result of systemic inequalities and seeks to rectify these disparities and inequities through targeted interventions. • Adaptability and Flexibility: The public health landscape is constantly evolving, especially with the challenges posed by climate change. Programs must be adapt- able and capable of responding to new health threats and changing environmen- tal conditions. Maintaining and enhancing traditional environmental public health programs, while also building proactive programming to address health disparities and climate change, is a multifaceted task. It requires an integrated approach that combines data and technol- ogy, collaborative partnerships, community engagement, policy integration, workforce development, and a strong focus on health equity and resilience. By embracing this holis- tic approach, environmental public health systems can not only respond to immediate health threats but also proactively work toward a healthier, more equitable future in the face of climate change and social inequities.

Joint inspections, field observations, flowcharts, and forms—these are a few of the practices we are hearing about from jurisdictions from around the country through our Retail Food Safety Regulatory Workforce Standardization Census. Is your jurisdiction using similar practices? Have you found innovative processes for standardization? Tell us about it! Your input will inform the specific, tailored assistance available to you, whether to maintain your existing program or support you with training and standardization. Learn more and take the census at

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March 2024 • Journal of Environmental Health

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