Research Pillar 1: Integrated, Community-Based Surveillance Systems

The need for enhanced surveillance is the most commonly identified health-related adaptation strategy. Surveillance is an important component of climate change adaptation because it builds on existing infrastructureskills, and capacity. However existing systems often are not adequately equipped to detect and respond to climate change.

How can we adapt surveillance approaches to act as early warning systems for climate-health events?
How can we engage communities in the development and implementation of surveillance and early warning systems?

This pillar grapples with these questions by developing an integrated participatory, community-based surveillance system to collect data to understand, respond to, and reduce the climate-health outcomes related to food systems, security and safety in Indigenous communities in Canada, Uganda, and Peru. Incorporating Indigenous knowledge is important for Indigenous communities, who are often inadequately engaged in surveillance systems, leading to low participation, relevance, and data quality. Despite Canada’s international leadership in integrated environment and health surveillance, research on this topic in Indigenous communities in Canada and abroad are sparse.

Our surveillance systems will use participatory methods, involving the development of “networks of human observers” to make systematic observations, and to place these into cultural context. The surveillance systems created in each region will focus on food systems, security, and safety, climate/weather signals, environmental change, and related health outcomes, but will differ by region to reflect local context and Indigenous knowledge.

To co-develop and prioritize culturally-appropriate, locally-relevant, and sustainable response plans, we will also:

  • Develop novel surveillance tools
  • Collect high quality longitudinal data to characterize climate-health associations
  • Work with end-users