With World Environmental Health Day commemorated annually on 26 September, the City of Cape Town brought environmental health practitioners together to talk about climate change, its effects and the roles of practitioners.The theme for 2019 focuses on climate change and how it affects human health, directly and indirectly – particularly in vulnerable communities.According to the leaders in the charge against climate change, the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH): “Direct and indirect health impacts associated with climate change are caused by rising temperatures, altered precipitation patterns as well as increasingly severe and frequent extreme weather events. Direct health impacts arise from hazards such as heat-waves, droughts and storms, and indirect impacts come from exposures to disease vectors, air and water pollution. Rising carbon dioxide levels, which contribute to climate change, may also reduce the nutrient value in staple crops. This could increase food insecurity among some populations, particularly those in developing countries.”Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien says the City is also looking to combat the progression of the global crisis. “Climate change is a very abstract concept for many people, but in Cape Town, we have, in the last three years, come face-to-face with the potential devastation that it can bring,” he says, referring to the water crisis. “It has forced us to start looking very differently at the traditional role of health practitioners, and those they work with. The conversation continues, because there are no easy answers. The one thing that is certain, is that collaboration within the City administration is crucial, but also with outside parties and, of course, our residents.”He adds: “The City’s environmental health department performs so many different functions that the public is oblivious to, and they acquit themselves of their task very well. However, the demands on these professionals increase daily, as a result of factors like climate change, the growing population and other socio-economic factors. “So, while climate change is the focus of World Environmental Health Day, it is also an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the department and the role it plays in building safer communities.”V Residents can report any health nuisance, environment-related complaints or concerns to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089 or visit their nearest environmental health office or clinic.