Cancelled CDC Climate and Health Meeting to Be Held Privately

Alicia Ault

January 27, 2017

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conference that was to examine the impact of climate change on human health will now be held privately.

The CDC, along with sponsors that include the American Public Health Association (APHA), the National Association of City and County Health Officials, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the National Indian Health Board, had been planning to have the meeting February 14-16 in Atlanta.

But the meeting was cancelled by CDC officials, in part because of concerns that it might not be well received by the Trump administration, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, told Medscape Medical News. President Trump has indicated he does not believe climate change is real.

Now, the conference is back on. The new Climate & Health Summit is being held on February 16 in Atlanta under the auspices of the APHA, former Vice President Al Gore (who was to be a keynote speaker at the CDC meeting), the Climate Reality Project, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Howard Frumkin, MD, former director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

Dr Benjamin said Gore called him after the CDC cancellation became news on January 25 and that the two discussed what they might do to get the conference back on track. "We thought it was important to do something," Dr Benjamin told Medscape Medical News. The APHA's focus this year is on climate change, and it will make that the centerpiece of its annual meeting in November. The groups did not want to lose momentum that was to have begun with the CDC meeting, said Dr Benjamin.

The CDC began telling registered participants on December 22, 2016, that its summit had been postponed, according to Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokeswoman. The agency is "exploring options to reschedule the meeting while considering budget priorities for fiscal year 2017," she told Medscape Medical News.

The CDC had not responded by press time as to whether staff would be speaking or attending the new Climate & Health Summit. Dr Benjamin said he did not yet know whether any CDC staff would be in attendance.

The Climate & Health Summit will be supported by former broadcast magnate Ted Turner's Turner Foundation, as well as other organizations.

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