Adaptation strategies for health policy on climate change span a wide spectrum, from long-term efforts to reduce social and economic disparities, to the more immediate provision of local information, incentives to behavioural change, and the use of technical protective devices. A simple example is that of reducing the extra deaths and episodes of serious illness experienced by urban populations during extremes of heat. Adaptations could include "weather-watch" warning systems, better housing design, climate-related urban planning (to reduce the "heat island effect"), and greater access to emergency medical care. As far as possible, such interventions should be undertaken on the basis of evidence that demonstrates their effectiveness.
The success of these strategies will rely on the involvement of local and national communities in the decision-making process, which in turn is dependent on an effective programme of information sharing and dissemination.
Because global environmental change processes are already occurring and will continue over successive decades, adverse health impacts should be minimized through adaptive interventions that may reduce population vulnerability and minimize local exposure.
In light of climate change a World Health Organization (WHO) working group has recommended carrying out ongoing reviews of the social, economic and technical prevention, mitigation and adaptation options available to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion on human health. It also recommends support for the implementation of prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies, taking into account national impact assessments (e.g. by strengthening surveillance activities), with appropriate public education and with special reference to vulnerable groups.