In anticipation of its 100th anniversary, the Walsh School of Foreign Service is organizing an annual Centennial Event Series. Each year leading up to the 2019-2020 centennial year, SFS will choose an important theme around which to plan programs for the Georgetown and Washington, DC communities. Featuring experts and practitioners in international affairs and other disciplines intersecting with the theme, the Centennial Event Series will demonstrate the reach and relevance of SFS scholarship and its impact on key global issues.

The 2016-2017 Centennial Event Series theme is The Environment.

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Southby Seminar: The Impact of Climate Change on Public Health in the South Pacific

April 12, 2017 @ 2:30 am - 4:30 pm

Pacific island countries are among the countries most vulnerable to climate variability and change. The incidence, geographic distribution, and seasonality of a wide range of health outcomes are affected by temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events. High-priority climate-sensitive health risks include direct effects such as the health impacts of extreme weather events (e.g. cyclones, flooding, droughts and heatwaves); indirect effects such as waterborne diseases, undernutrition and foodborne diseases, vectorborne diseases, zoonoses, respiratory illness, and disorders of the eyes, ears, skin, and other body systems; and diffuse effects such as mental / psychosocial illnesses, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), pressures on fragile health systems, and population displacement. These health outcomes primarily affect newborns, youth, children and women, which is of particular importance because the Pacific island countries are home to over one million children under the age of 18. Further, some climate-sensitive diseases affect pregnancy outcomes such as maternal malaria and Zika, a vectorborne disease that increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, fetal malformation, stillbirth, and low birth weight. There is an urgent need to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities and populations to expected changes in the numbers of cases of climate-sensitive health outcomes as the climate continues to change.

Professor Kristie L. Ebi is the Rohm & Haas Endowed Professorship in Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington and she been conducting research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and  change for twenty years.  Her research focuses on the impacts of and adaptation to climate variability and change, including on extreme events, thermal stress, foodborne safety and security, and vectorborne diseases.  She focuses on understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments.  She has supported multiple countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific in assessing their vulnerability and implementing adaptation measures, in collaboration with WHO, UNDP, USAID, and others. She also is co-chair with Tom Kram (PBL, The Netherlands) of the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessjment Scenarios (ICONICS), facilitating development of new climate change scenarios.  Dr. Ebi’s scientific training includes an M.S. in toxicology and a Ph.D. and a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology, and two years of postgraduate research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  She has edited fours books on aspects of climate change and has more than 180 publications.

The Southby Seminar on Public Health is made possible by the generous gift of Richard and Janet Southby.

This event is part of the SFS Centennial Event Series on the environment. As the School of Foreign Service approaches the one-hundredth anniversary of its founding in 2019, it is curating a year-long event series that convenes thinking and reflection on vital issues across the school, the university, and the community.

Cosponsorship is provided by the Master of Science in Global Health.


Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies


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